Three children from West Sussex scooped top prizes at this year’s Learn to Swim Achiever Awards.
Held at Mountbatten Centre in Portsmouth, the ceremony celebrated talented and inspiring young swimmers from West Sussex, Hampshire and Isle of Wight who have been learning under Southern Water’s scheme.
Among the winners were Herb Richey, eight, who attends Penguins Swimming Lessons in Lancing, nine-year-old Philip Edwards, who swims at Worthing’s Splashpoint Leisure Centre, and Sebastian Clarke, ten, who learns to swim at Wadurs Impulse Leisure in Shoreham.
These children, along with others who had conquered a fear of water and youngsters who succeeded in the pool despite considerable challenges, collected medals and certificates from Olympic gold medallist Duncan Goodhew and Invictus Games champion Mike Goody, in front of an audience of parents, families and coaches.
Duncan said: “I have been a Learn to Swim ambassador for more than 20 years and each year I am proud to celebrate extraordinary achievers. The awards are all about young people who have been really tested by the learning to swim experience.
“Swimming is a fantastic sport and more than that, it is a challenge. Another amazing part of Learn to Swim is the instructors, they teach children a life-saving skill.”
READ MORE: See last year’s West Sussex winners
Mike Goody started swimming with Southern Water’s Learn to Swim scheme 25 years ago and recently took home two gold medals at this year’s Invictus Games in Sydney.
He said: “Southern Water’s Learn to Swim programme is now in its 26th year and we were really excited to be celebrating young people’s achievements in the pool.
“Swimming is one of the most valuable life lessons and skills anyone can learn, and as you get older it opens up a whole new world of things. The swimmers are an example of what can be achieved through sheer determination. A favourite quote of mine is ‘just keep swimming’.”
Southern Water’s Learn to Swim programme supports lessons at more than 80 pools and clubs and has so far helped to teach more than 800,000 children to swim.
Beverley Thompson, community engagement manager for Southern Water added: “Celebrating our young achievers is one of the many highlights of the Learn to Swim scheme. We would like to thank all the instructors at the clubs and pools across the regions who give their time and expertise to teach all our young swimmers.
“Here at Southern Water we are passionate about keeping children safe around water. With more than 700 miles of coastline in our region, it is so important to teach them this life-saving skill.”