Great Baddow School pictured here left, from Chelmsford and Heathlands School from St Albans, were crowned South England deaf Panathlon swimming champions in the Aquatics Centre at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London today.
The event was split into two competitions, one for Secondary aged competitors and another for Primary schools in the South-East, with points added up in their heats to decide each winner. Schools from outside London proved dominant, with a Suffolk combination team finishing second in the Secondary competition and Mildmay/Tanys Dell school combination from Essex, finishing runners up in the Primary event.
Jane Campbell, a teacher from Great Baddow School said, “I thought the trip was really well organised and a fantastic opportunity for our students. It gave them an chance to not only support each other, but to look at one another’s strengths, playing to them in the races that they were in. It also gave them opportunities to mix with other schools and socialise with deaf peers, that they would not otherwise see, thus supporting a deaf identity.”
“For some I feel it gave them an opportunity to excel in a world that they otherwise find difficult. Giving them confidence and pleasure. I thought it was brilliant that parents were allowed to come and watch. It gave the children a real sense of pride – especially when they won. It also gave an opportunity for the children and parents to really share something at home, hopefully supporting great and positive communication.”
Caitlin Ford from Great Baddow said, “It was great seeing old friends at other schools, and ex-teachers at such an amazing event. What an amazing idea of races, I loved the raft race, we needed to work as a team, communicate amongst ourselves. What a venue, the experience was beyond what I dreamed. Having parents cheering us on, my mum was so proud of me, it was fun, and I wished it would never end.”
Primary winners Heathlands lead teacher Sean Priestley said, “Many thanks for organising this event. The pupils really enjoyed the day and the timings were spot on for us. It was great to have won and we hope we can defend our title next year.”
Simon Ash, a teacher with the runners- up Mildmay School said, “The children were all so nervous, as they aren’t confident in the water. The structure of the events means they can compete. They all supported one another and every-one of them was glad to have had this experience and again compete in a competition with their peers. Thanks for accommodating my pupil with medical needs, this is something Panathlon does really well and yesterday was no exception, both she and her parents thought the day was perfect.”
Two Deaf ambassadors helped run the day, Jack Gair and Jessica Oaten (pictured left) performed roles with the schools participating. Jessica’s teacher Rachel Charlton of Sweyne Park commented, “Jessica took her ambassadors role very seriously and had a great time, as a competitive swimmer she was struck by how the schools enjoyed the competition and also the opportunity to interact and have the chance to swim in the Olympic venue.”
Jack Gair, 2015 Panathlon Outstanding young Leader of the year, continued his involvement with Panathlon and was excited by the event “It was great to see so many schools involved and to have the opportunity again to be part of Panathlon’s work and great to see old faces from my school days.”
Panathlon would like to thank Ovingdean Foundation for their continued support of the programme across England, the City Bridge Trust for the support for London schools and GLL/Better for support in making this day run smoothly in the pool.
For a the gallery of photos – please click on the image below.