Great Arley School from Lancashire won gold at London’s Aquatic Centre in the National U14 Swimming Final– Panathlon’s first ever nationwide pan-disability competition.
The victors from Thornton Cleveleys scored 84 points to edge out their neighbours and fierce rivals Park School, from Blackpool, who finished third on 66. The Ashley School from Lowestoft in Suffolk finished in silver medal position on 72.
All eight teams had qualified through their regional finals and travelled from all corners of England for the inaugural event. Priory Woods came all the way from Middlesbrough with other regional event winners coming from Kent, Gloucester, London and Birmingham.
Some competing teams paid to stay overnight, with champions Great Arley and Priory Woods, from Teesside, both staying at an activity centre in Essex and third-placed Park stopping at a nearby hotel in Stratford.
Amanda Johnstone, Assistant Head at triumphant Great Arley, commented: “I’m sure our Deputy Head Mrs Rowley, who has trained this squad, will be really proud of them.
“We got waved off yesterday by the whole school. It means so much to them and is so good for their self-esteem because they go to a special needs school.
“To be able to come somewhere like this and be able to say, ‘I’ve swum in the Olympic pool’ means so much to them and to their parents. We are super proud of them.”
With a gold medal hanging proudly round her neck, Emily Lowe, 11, said: “It makes us really happy that we get this opportunity to swim in this pool. Seeing everyone enjoy themselves so much was amazing.”
Her team-mate Kieran Rutter, 13, added: “I feel proud to be here in this venue. It shows if you work really hard you can earn experiences and medals like this. Put your head down, don’t worry about anyone else, and just head for the gold!”
Emma Louise, 12, of the second-placed Ashley School said: “When my mum and dad see this medal they will probably start crying!”
The inaugural Panathlon National U14 Swimming Final was the last of three days of activity at the world famous London Aquatics Centre, host of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Today’s National U-14 championships were only possible thanks to the support of our funders St. James’s Place Charitable Foundation as well as GLL, the UK’s largest leisure charitable social enterprise.
The full article can be viewed here.