Six schools took part in the fourth year of the Tyne and Wear Panathlon Swimming Under-20 competition at the Lakeside Centre in Newcastle.
Tuesday June 13th’s event saw 48 students competing, and an Under-12 Panathlon competition held three days later at nearby Hadrian Leisure Centre increased the total number of competitors over both days to well over 110.
The Under-20s competition was officiated, both in and out of the water, by 16 Young Leaders from John Spence Community High School in North Shields.
Claire Lee, the Tyne and Wear School Games Co-ordinator, said: “It seems like only yesterday when we started with Panathlon on this swimming gala. Four years later we now have two days and around 100 children involved.
“It is now a key part of our disability Schools Games calendar and we get interest from new schools each year. Tyne and Wear Sport really enjoy the competition and feedback from teachers about the experience is always so positive.”
The Under-20 section was won by Northern Counties School from The Cedars Academy of Gateshead after a close contest.
Northern Counties School is part of the education services within the Percy Hedley Foundation, where the children have a hearing impairment or visual impairment, with multiple learning disabilities.
Northern Counties’ lead teacher Kerry Moore said: “This was a well organised day with a very relaxed and friendly feeling. Our students felt a part of something special.
“Our students commented about how much they enjoyed competing with other schools and how they have started to recognise other students from previous events and feel that some friendships could evolve from this.
“Staff also commented how beneficial it is for our students to mix with others who are not deaf, and how this experience will benefit them for future.”
Steve Middlemiss, Cedars Academy/Gateshead SSP Inclusive Sports Officer, said: “It’s great to have these Panathlon galas. Cedars sees it as an important event to attend.
“It’s great to see so many schools participating and the continuity between the under-12s and under-20s means swimmers can be involved right through their years.”
Bobby Graham, lead teacher for leadership at John Spence High School, said: “Students from the school have supported Panathlon across this school year both in swimming and multisport.
“It is an important part of our leadership development and today we also brought the next generation of leadership to work alongside the ones who have been involved before. This puts the new ones in a good position to be involved next year.”
Young Leader Morgan Coyne said: “I have enjoyed Panathlon this year; the events have been really eye opening and have helped me get a greater understanding of young people with a wide range of disabilities, which I believe has made me a more rounded person.”
Support has come from Tyne and Wear Sport, the Community Foundation and the Peter Harrison Foundation.
1. Northern Counties 58 pts
2. Cedars Academy 46 pts
3. Dryden 41 pts
4. Southalnds 39 pts
5. Percy Hedley Foundation School 33 pts
6. Gibside 25 pts