When Harry Met Duncan To Build A ‘Generation Swim’ Wave From The Ripple Of Scotland’s Call To The Water  

2023-09-20 No comments Reading Time: 5 minutes
Swimming, a life-long, life-saving and life-enhancing skill: pioneer Harry Findlater, 7, and pioneer Duncan Scott, 26 - courtesy of Scottish Swimming

When Harry Findlater, 7, met Duncan Scott, the ripple of Scotland’s ‘Generation Swim’ program to create a nation of safe and competent swimmers built a wave of inspiration.

Learn To Swim programs, many under threat from pool closures far and wide across the world in the wake of the Covid pandemic and the backwash of shutdowns and struggles to turn the taps back on, can be found the world over, of coursed, but Harry’s inspiration tale stands out as one of those for the book of ‘if I can do it, so can you!’.

Harry, from Montrose, was born with cerebral palsy. At four, he underwent life-changing spinal surgery; at five he learned to swim as therapy to help him to recover from his treatment; and at seven, he’s a swimmer, thriving in water, in life, a boy having fun and exchanging a smile and a laugh with Scott, the first British athlete in any sport to haul four medals at one Olympic Games.

Learn to Swim lessons at ANGUSalive’s Montrose pool is where Harry’s swim voyage began. The program is one of 37 aquatic providers delivering The Learn to Swim framework – a partnership between Scottish Swimming and Scottish Water – with the goal of creating ‘Generation Swim’, the next generation of safe and competent swimmers.

Speaking through Scottish Swimming, Harry’s mum, Lizzie said: “Harry’s journey has not been easy but it’s incredible to see where he is at now. Swimming has improved his confidence massively by being able to do what everyone else can, not to mention acting as vital rehab for Harry.

“Learning to swim provides that sense of inclusivity and provides children with great safety skills for the future so we’re very grateful to all of Harry’s teachers who have invested so much time into his development. Hopefully, Harry’s story can inspire others in similar situations to get in the pool.”

“The Learn to Swim programme is open to everyone regardless of disability or skills levels, with the partnership committed to creating a supportive environment for all,” notes Scottish Swimming.

ANGUSalive’s Heather McCallum has been Harry’s swim teach since he started Learn to Swim lessons two years ago. She said: “Harry’s progress has been truly impressive. You can see his newfound confidence as he can now swim across the studio pool unaided in front crawl and backstroke.

“Our next focus is on refining his technique and generally building his confidence in the water. He’s thriving both in and out the pool and it’s been really inspiring as a teacher to watch his progress.”

Learn to Swim has already provided lessons to more than 100,000 children and aims to reach another 100,000 by 2025, helping more young people across Scotland stay safe in the water.

Euan Lowe, CEO of Scottish Swimming said: “Learning to swim should be accessible to everyone and anyone. The Learn to Swim programme provides the setting to allow children with disabilities to learn the skill with their peers.

“Not only is swimming a vital life skill but it can improve children’s social skills and health benefits. Harry’s story is a prime example at the positive differences swimming can have on people’s lives.”

The National Framework is delivered by 37 leisure trusts and aquatic providers across more than 160 pools.

Brian Lironi, Director of Corporate Affairs at Scottish Water, said: “Learn to Swim gives all children the opportunity to learn and enjoy swimming in a safe way. One of our aims is to create a generation of safe and responsible swimmers as well as emphasise the health benefits that swimming generates, especially at such a young age.

“Harry’s story is proof that everybody can and should learn to swim. Hopefully this will encourage more children and parents to experience the benefits of the learning to swim.”

Call For The Courage Of Harry: Scott’s Role In Generation Swim

Report by Scottish Swimming

Young swimmers in East Dunbartonshire have taken part in a once-in-a-lifetime swim class with Olympic, World and Commonwealth Champion, Duncan Scott, to mark Learn to Swim Month.

Duncan Scott riding the wave of excellence – by Georgie Kerr, courtesy of British Swimming

Duncan made a splash at East Dunbartonshire Leisure and Culture (EDLC) Trust’s Leisuredrome in Bishopbriggs to celebrate EDLC being recognised as the latest leisure trust to deliver the National Learn to Swim Framework – a partnership between Scottish Swimming and Scottish Water.

More than 110 local swimmers from preschool age upwards, and seven Learn to Swim teachers joined Duncan Scott to celebrate the occasion which also saw EDLC’s ‘Swimmer of the Month’ crowned by the athlete.

The event not only left the next generation inspired but provided passionate local swimming teachers the opportunity to teach beside one of Scotland’s top athletes, joining Duncan to teach vital life skills such as floating and treading water, as well as sharing top tips on a variety of swimming strokes.

The swimming superstar added celebrity excitement to the event in East Dunbartonshire. EDLC Trust is the newest of 38 aquatic providers delivering the Learn to Swim scheme in 163 pools across Scotland.

Duncan Scott said: “It’s fantastic to see East Dunbartonshire Leisure and Culture Trust joining and providing the Learn to Swim programme, and to have been able to join the youngsters and teachers to celebrate Learn to Swim Month. It’s great to see so many passionate kids learning how to stay safe in the water.

“Learn to Swim Month is a key time to recognise the vital community hubs that teach children all over the country the life skill of learning to swim. So many lives would be put at risk if it wasn’t for lessons like these, it’s been inspiring seeing so many budding swimmers today!”

Learn to Swim Month runs throughout the entire month of September and aims to emphasise the importance of water safety education and the joy of swimming for individuals of all ages and abilities.

Duncan Scott is joined in his ambassadorship for Learn to Swim by World Champion and Paralympic medallist Toni Shaw. Having such prominent athletes spearheading Scottish Swimming and Scottish Water’s initiative has helped inspire more than 1800children in East Dunbartonshire to get in the pool and increase their confidence.

EDLC Trust hopes that by fostering the new Framework, the Learn to Swim programme will go from strength to strength – working closely with children to help them keep fit and healthy and make new friends, while stressing the importance of water safety.

Jim Neill, Chair of East Dunbartonshire Leisure and Culture Trust, said: “It was wonderful to welcome Duncan Scott to the Leisuredrome in Bishopbriggs. He is an inspiration to swimmers across the country, and our young people taking lessons were thrilled to have the opportunity to meet him and to learn from him. 

“We are very fortunate in East Dunbartonshire to have a team of highly dedicated swimming instructors and I’d like to take this opportunity to thank them all for all their hard work in delivering excellent swimming programmes to children and young people here at the Leisuredrome, and at Kirkintilloch Leisure Centre and the Allander Leisure Centre in Bearsden.”

EDLC Trust’s aspiration is that it will add to the current examples of positive impacts the Learn to Swim Framework is having on young swimmers in the local area.

Ally Whike, Director of Aquatics of Scottish Swimming, said: “It’s a priority to get children comfortable and safe in the water. The more familiar they are with the aquatic environment the better.

“We hope that having Duncan leading from the front will inspire the next generation to embrace opportunities in the water, whether that includes swimming competitively or just enjoying water-based exercise in their daily lives.

“We hope giving the aspiring swimmers in East Dunbartonshire a chance to learn alongside one of our nation’s most exceptional swimmers will help continue encouraging more children to get in the pool in communities across Scotland.

The National Learn to Swim Framework has already provided lessons to more than 100,000 children and aims to reach another 100,000 children by 2025.

Brian Lironi, Director of Corporate Affairs with Scottish Water, said: “Safety in and around water is a key element of the Learn to Swim Framework. Swimming is a hugely valuable skill and learning the basics at a young age is vital.

“The programme equips children with skills that will help them to be safer in and out of the water – whether at their local pool, at the beach on holiday or around Scotland’s miles of coastline, rivers and lochs.”

Learn to Swim is a National Framework committed to creating supportive and quality environments in which children can learn to swim regardless of their age, ability, or skill level. It aims to develop competent swimmers, as well as encouraging youngsters to adopt a healthy and fulfilling lifestyle with sport and fun at its heart.

To learn more about becoming an EDLC swim teacher , visit: www.edlc.co.uk/sport-leisure/swimming/get-involved

For more information on the Learn to Swim programme, visit: https://learntoswim.scot/

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