Special Olympics Great Britain and Mencap join forces to hold the fourteenth annual National Partnership Swimming Competition for swimmers with a learning disability or intellectual disability at the Liverpool Aquatics Centre on the 21st and 22nd September.
Formerly known as The National Swimming Championship, this fun-filled, weekend-long event sees more than 180 swimmers with a learning disability or intellectual disability from across the country compete at national level.
With two full days of racing, athletes can compete over a range of distances from 25m to 800m, across the four main strokes, ensuring that every level of ability is well catered for.
In the UK there are around 1.5 million people with a learning disability – a reduced intellectual ability which affects someone for their whole life. It can cause problems with everyday tasks – for example shopping and cooking, or travelling to new places, understanding difficult information and engaging with other people – and the level of support someone needs is different with every individual. People with a learning disability or intellectual disability are more likely to be socially isolated, with one in three people with a learning disability or intellectual disability spending less than one hour outside of their homes on a typical Saturday. They are also nearly twice as likely to be inactive; almost half (43%) of adults with a learning disability or intellectual disability are inactive compared to the national average of 25% . Participating in sport is a great way to break down these social barriers – increasing people with a learning disability or intellectual disability’s health and confidence while also bringing people together through sport.
Jessica-Jane Applegate MBE, Paralympic Games gold medal winner and ambassador for Mencap, has a learning disability and she says: “From the moment I first jumped in the water I knew that I wanted to swim, I felt like I could escape in the water and I could go to a safe place where no one could hurt me. I may not have been very good to start with but having a learning disability has never held me back from achieving my dreams. Whether it was learning to dive in from the side of the pool, taking part in my first international competition when I was just fifteen, or winning gold medals at the Paralympic Games, Para-swimming has given me the same opportunities as any other twenty-three year old and has enabled me to live the life I have chosen.
“I know that it isn’t easy for people with a learning disability. Lack of understanding about what a learning disability is means that things that everyone takes for granted are made impossible for people with a learning disability. But I’m proof that if you’ve got the right support, you can do anything & anything is possible!
“That’s why the National Partnership Swimming Competition is such an important part of the competition calendar, I begun at these championships many, many years ago slowly learning about the rules & how proper big competitions work. They helped me to understand what I needed to do going forward and now whenever I can I volunteer and go along myself to support everyone there. This competition can give you the opportunity to take your swimming to the next level”.
Michelle Carney, CEO Special Olympics said, “We are delighted to be working alongside Mencap once again on the National Partnership Swimming Competition.
“As with all our Special Olympics Great Britain events, the focus of the weekend is on our amazing athletes. It’s about taking part, doing your best and having a great time at the same time. Also having the opportunity to compete in such a fabulous venue in Liverpool which is all set to host our Summer Games in 2021 – will be a real treat and give us a sneak peek at what is to come in two years’ time. Best of luck to all the competitors. I know they will do Special Olympics GB, Mencap and themselves proud.”
Matt Maguire, National Sport Manager at the learning disability charity Mencap, said: “We’re proud to be partnering with the Special Olympics again this year to host this incredible event which brings together athletes with a learning disability for this special annual swimming competition.
“We know that some people with a learning disability face major barriers to getting involved in sport. The swimmers at this year’s National Partnership Swimming Competition will help inspire others by letting them know that they can take part in sport too! Sport is also a great way to help tackle the social isolation faced by people with a learning disability. We know that taking part in sport can help people with a learning disability feel more confident, healthy and part of their communities. We’re pleased to be able to work with the Special Olympics to help ensure that people with a learning disability have the same access to sports as people without. We wish all of this year’s competitors the best of luck!”
Find out more about the National Partnership Swimming Competition here: https://www.mencap.org.uk/about-us/our-projects/mencap-sport/national-partnership-swimming-competition-2019