Heritage Park were crowned winners of the South Yorkshire Primary Swimming Final at Ponds Forge International Pool on Wednesday.
The Sheffield school proved to be a dominant force, finishing with 75 points – 15 ahead of silver medallists Doncaster School for the Deaf and 18 ahead of third-placed Rowan School.
Heritage Park’s victory means they now qualify for the North of England Swimming Finals, which will be held back at Ponds Forge in June.
The gala was kindly supported by the Jane Tomlinson Appeal, as well as the St. James’s Place Charitable Foundation, the Yorkshire Sport Foundation and delivered thanks to the hard work of Dawn Wood and Helen Solly from Links SSP.
Teacher Megan Garwell from the victorious Heritage Park team reflected: “It is so nice for the children to not just take part but be competitive and develop their understanding about winning and losing.
“Our children have communication issues and often present with challenging behaviour, particularly when it comes to things like winning and losing. The structure and format of Panathlon’s competitions gets them used to that and it’s not something you often find in mainstream settings.
“The kids always really enjoy Panathlon. They’re really well organised which keeps the kids focused. They just love doing something that’s fun and active.
“The achievement of winning a medal is really good for their self-esteem. The whole day is a life lesson as well as a sporting occasion.”
Heritage Park student Roman, 12, said: “It was really good just to be here. I wanted to win a lot and it means a lot to win.”
Emily, nine, from runners-up Doncaster School for the Deaf (posing for a snap, left) said: “I’m happy because we’ve done really good at swimming and I have a medal. I liked doing the backstroke the most. I will show it to my mummy and daddy then hang it up in my bedroom.”
The day marked the first time 10-year-old Alfred, from third-placed Rowan School, had ever swum by himself. He said the achievement made him feel “pretty good actually!” He added: “When I was gliding, I felt like the Titanic! Well, before it sunk, anyway!”
Wharncliffe School, for children with a variety of special educational needs, finished fourth. Teaching assistant Vicky Sugden said: “It has been well organised with plenty of staff in and out of the water.
“They love swimming, having a go and meeting children from other schools. They cheer and clap other teams but they also like it when they win.”
Wharncliffe pupil Ryan, 10, said: “I’ve done three races and it’s really, really good and fun.” His classmate Mitchell, 10, added: “I’ve loved all of it! I’m going to hang my medal on my bed.”
The day’s Young Leaders were provided by New College Pontefract. Student John Clark, 17, volunteered as part of his Level 3 Certificate in Higher Sports Leadership at the college. He commented: “It was really rewarding and really fun getting involved in the activities and seeing how happy they were at the end from taking part in the day.
“We’ve been young leaders at around 10 Panathlon events but this was the first swimming one we’ve done, and it was probably the most enjoyable so far, being able to swim alongside the kids and really encourage them.”
Results from the South Yorkshire Primary Swimming Final:
- Heritage Park 75pts
- Doncaster School for the Deaf 60pts
- Rowan School 57pts
- Wharncliffe Side 55pts
- Holgate Meadows 49pts
- Greenacre 24pts
- Mossbrook 21pts