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Para Swimming

Sophie York

Photo: S6 para-swimmer Sophie York (Team Bath AS)

Para-Swimming is co-ordinated throughout Somerset to provide support and information to young people, adults, swimmers, parents and clubs about various aspects of the sport so they can participate, improve and compete in order to achieve their full potential.

Somerset ASA works in partnership with Swim England Para-Swimming and Local Sports Partners to promote disability and Para-Swimming at all levels throughout the County and to deliver a programme of training days and competitions.

Kay WillcoxKay Willcox liaises with the Regional Para-Swimming Committee and will be contacting all Somerset clubs to gain more information on numbers of para swimmers, whether Clubs are actively promoting that they are inclusive and to ascertain if there any training needs for club coaches / teachers.

Following the October / November 2017 restructure within the Swim England Para Swimming department, the Para Pathway Officer roles were reduced from 3 to 2 posts. This role is now called Para Swimming Coach with a different remit. Martin Lees manages these two roles as the Para Swimming Development Manager and started in March 2018. The Para Swimming Coaches are Carl Cooper and Tom McManus. Carl is the Regional Link for the South West and covers the South West, South East, London and the East. Their priority is around Development of Talent in Para Swimming. They will also be looking at Coach Development and how Swimmer ID days can be delivered in a more sustainable model.

Guidance for Running Safe Events

The Government is removing remaining domestic restrictions in England and has published its plan for living with COVID-19. From 24 Feb in England you will not be legally required to self-isolate if you test positive for COVID-19. Stay at home if you can and avoid contact with other people. You will not have to take daily tests or be legally required to self-isolate following contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. Staff and students in most education and childcare settings no longer need to test twice a week. View Government updates.

Swim England’s guidance documents are available to view at: https://www.swimming.org/swimengland/pool-return-guidance-documents/.

Somerset ASA Championships and Age Group Competitions

Thank you to everyone who has supported our competitions at Millfield in Jan/Feb. The contribution of each and every Club Official and Volunteer offering to support the Meet is valued and appreciated. Our Meets simply cannot run without your help. 

Somerset ASA Development Meet

Our Development Meet is open to members of clubs affiliated to Somerset ASA who are eligible to compete and registered in accordance with Swim England laws and technical rules. All competitors must be Swim England Club Compete registered prior to submitting entries.

National Para-Swimming Pathway Engagement Days
Open to both Para Athletes and Para Coaches, these provide an opportunity to join the England Para - Swimming Talent Team for a FREE, fun day of workshops and activities with lots of valuable info on how to develop Para-athletes.

View details of and book onto session on Tuesday 30 May 2023 online via Zoom: Athletes: 6pm – 7:45pm (Coaches are welcome to observe) and Coaches  7pm – 8pm.

Disability Forum
The Disability Forum launched within the South West is looking to create a full picture of disability / para swimming activity within the region. A Development Plan was discussed with targets highlighted for

  1. ID / Taster Sessions/ Regional Training
  2. Classification
  3. Training and Development Needs in the South West.

Swimming is by far the favourite sport of many disabled children and adults. We want to help you inspire these individuals to join in with the fun in the pool and take that next step by joining a club. Download this poster to see how you can change perceptions by changing Club practices in 2023.

If your club is delivering activity or planning to do so, please can you advive the regional team.

See Links & Training section on this page for details of other opportunities, including CPD.

Swim Sessions 
Regional training forms a part of the Para-Swimming Talent Pathway and underpins the National Para-Swimming Talent programme which is led and delivered by Swim England’s Para-Swimming Talent Team. 

Para-Swimming Regional training aims to include more sessions at locations around the region. This will enable as many swimmers as possible to access regionally-led, Para-specific training that includes both pool and land-based sessions. 

Regional Para Swimming Training Day - 1 Jul 2023

1 Jul 2023 (2pm to 5.30pm) at Plymouth Life Centre, 40 Mayflower Drive, PL2 3DG.
It will focus on effective stroke technique, nutrition and performance lifestyle. View news item with timetable and how to book your place(s).

We previously publicised similar events
- 10 Dec 2022 (2pm to 5pm) at Marlborough College Swimming Pool (details) and 
- 09 July 2022 (12pm to 4.15pm) at Taunton Prep School Pool, Staplegrove Road, Taunton, TA2 6AD (details).
- 22 Jan 2022 (12pm to 4.15pm) at Taunton Prep School Pool. View report.

View Swim England South West Para-Swimming coach appointments announced Nov 2021 to lead their termly Regional Training Days for Para-Swimmers.Look out for dates and venues of further south west Regional Training Days along with details of how to book a place.

Have you been inspired by the Paralympics this summer? Want to give competitive swimming a try? We publicised an opportunity from network partner City of Bristol Aquatics' for a Start Para trial session on Sunday 19 September 2021 from 5-6pm.

A.N.T. Swimming Club of Somerset operates from a number of pools, encompassing both short course and long course training, to cater for athletes with a disability. The Club is registered with Every Body Moves (a platform and collaboration between Paralympics GB and Toyota formerly called Parasport) and delivers bespoke sessions for deaf athletes and athletes with partial hearing as well as para-swimmers. 

City of Bristol para squad was set up in 2015 and numbers are growing (18 in June 2018). Tthe club offers swim skills based sessions every Sunday from 5pm to 6pm at Hengrove Leisure Centre. These also provide an opportunity for teachers and coaches to experience working with swimmers with a wide range of impairments.

You can be part of Bristol's Swim England  para club if you

  • can swim a minimum of 25m
  • are confident in deep water
  • are aged 8+
  • have knowledge and ability in all 4 swimming strokes
  • have an interest in finding out what para swimming is
  • want to have some fun, meet new people

Please email paraswimming@cobaquatics.club to arrange a free trial.


Introducing Para-swimming

Swim England is providing a clear pathway for the English para-swimming stars of the future, expanding the Start Para-Swimming programme across the country.  

Taking part in competitions

Steph Millward, Southwest swimmer of the year, with Paul Robbins, Swim England SW President

Photo: Stephanie Millward (Team Bath AS). who was inducted into University of Bath's Hall of Fame for Sport in October 2019, is a previous South West swimmer of the Year and pictured receiving that award from Paul Robbins during his Presidency of Swim England South West. She represented Team GB in Tokyo 2020, her fourth Paraympic Games.

Seek advice on what to look for in a club before joining and the benefits of training with both main stream and disability clubs. Coaching is aimed and revolved around a swimmer not their disability. Talk to athletes and coaches on how they prefer train.

Ask / read how to get classified as it sets up a pathway for future athletes. Find out what young swimmers think about competing for their clubs and how it has improved their self esteem.



*There are current issues surrounding classification and the changes that have been implemented by the IPC. This caused a backlog for classification as all classifiers needed to be upskilled. This also had, in some cases, a significant impact on elite athletes. It is hoped that the process could be streamlined. It is an issue across all Para Sport, not just swimming. 


The Pathway To Paralympic Gold

Athletes can progress from club, county and regional levels into world class with training and support schemes to gain as much success as possible at future Paralympics.


Steph Millward of Team Bath AS is one of the most experienced Para-Swimmers on the British team having won a total of 10 Paralympic medals including two gold. At the beginning of her career, she was on the fringes of the British international able-bodied team before being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis when she was 17 years old - and fought back to make the Paralympic finals in Beijing, London and Rio.

We all want our dreams to come true, but we don't all have the tenacity, courage and perseverance that Stephanie had to show to make her dream a reality.


Talent Identification

Development days have been held within the South West in the following format:


Join the race to Tokyo 2020 and beyond at a para-swimming talent ID day - contact the regional office and cc paraswimming@swimming.org for more information on the above dates and venues.


Recreational Swimming

Talk to your local pool about how you can get involved in swimming if you have a disability, the benefits of learning this life skill and how it can progress further into clubs. Hear what parents think of their children learning to swim with a disability and the support swimming teachers can offer.

We hold information about clubs and groups within the County who provide opportunities for disabled people to learn to swim within a sheltered swimming session.  It is hoped that through these clubs they will be encouraged to make swimming a regular part of their weekly routine.

How can your facility help increase accessibility to swimming? Read the case study on how Parkwood Community Leisure's Aquability Project set about meeting the needs of people with disabilities in Solihull by increasing the opportunities and access to swimming. The project utilised a partnership approach between Solihull Council, Parkwood Community Leisure, Active Partnership, NGB and local disability organisations.


Guidance Information



Links & Training


For further information why not contact the Regional Para-Swimming Pathway Officer via Swim England South West.



There are lots of reasons people like you volunteer:

  • Develop themselves and others 
  • Give something back 
  • Enhance their CV 
  • Build confidence and self esteem 
  • To volunteer at events and championships 
  • Enjoyment 
  • To support their children and their club 
  • Develop new skills, knowledge and experience 
  • Gain a qualification 
  • Be part of their local community 
  • To do something worthwhile outside work 
  • Meet people and make friends
Please contact Kay Willcox to find opportunities for you locally.