Updated: Oct 26, 2019
A Sefton youngster has overcome a life limiting and threatening disease to achieve his goal of achieving Stage Seven in the ASA Learn to Swim Pathway.
Daniel Davies, aged 14, was diagnosed with the muscle wasting Congenital Myotonic Dystrophy when he very young, along with severe learning difficulties, asthma, heart and lung problems. Doctors told Daniel’s parents that any form of exercise would be very difficult for him, with football, cycling, running and catching completely ruled out.
However, from a very early age, Daniel discovered a love of swimming and began attending lessons at Bootle Leisure Centre. Despite the difficulties caused by his disease, Daniel turned up, week after week, for his lessons; inspiring instructors with his drive and growing ability.
As Daniel improved and made his way through each stage of the ASA Learn to Swim Pathway, it became clear his condition would prevent him from continuing past Stage Seven. Instructors, in agreement with Daniel and his family, set a date for Daniel to complete Stage Seven and conclude 10 years of hard work.
Alison Davies, Daniel’s Mum, said: “Swimming has become a huge part of Daniel’s life and I believe it has helped him with his muscles and pain.
“Every Saturday morning he would wake up excited about his swimming lesson and his drive to reach Stage Seven has been very inspiring.
“Over the past 10 years, Daniel has had many different instructors and each one of them has commented on what a joy it was to teach him.”
Ahead of his final swimming lesson, Daniel was awarded The Richard McGrath Positive Futures Award at the Sefton Sports Awards in Southport. The award, sponsored by Aiming High, recognises a young person who has overcome barriers to inclusion and has engaged in sport, improving life and social skills.
Alison added: “Daniel was absolutely made up to receive the award at the Sefton Sports Awards and it was a fantastic evening. It was great to see him being recognised by the wider sporting community for his hard work and swimming ability."
On Saturday, August 6 Daniel attended his final swimming lesson at Bootle Leisure Centre. Cheered on by his mum, his sister, Amy and Charlotte Heners, Active Sefton, Daniel was put through his paces by swimming instructor, Christine Van Gelder and completed the session with flying colours.
Alison concluded: “I am very proud of my young man and I am sure everyone would agree that this is an incredible achievement for someone who uses a wheelchair on a daily basis.
“I hope that Daniel inspires many other young people with disabilities to believe in their dreams and know that anything is possible with hard work.”
Nic Bungay, Director of Campaigns, Care and Information at Muscular Dystrophy uk said: “We would like to congratulate Daniel on his impressive swimming achievement. It is brilliant that his commitment and enthusiasm for swimming has led to this award. Muscular dystrophy is a severe condition that causes muscles to weaken and waste, making Daniel’s feat even more admirable.
“At this year’s Paralympic Games, our charity ambassador, Ollie Hynd, who also has muscular dystrophy, will be looking to build on his London success with more gold medals. People like Ollie and Daniel clearly inspire others with their commitment to sport. We extend our congratulations again to Daniel, and hope he continues swimming for time to come.”
For more information on Congenital Myotonic Dystrophy visit musculardystrophyuk.org
For more information on Sefton Council swimming lessons visit activeaquatics.co.uk