Why a nine- year- old North Devon girl dreams of swimming in the Paralympics

Posted: 12th Nov 2018

Category: Health & Fitness


Many of us take life skills such as swimming for granted but for one nine- year- old girl from North Devon her weekly swimming lessons has given her back her confidence and has her dreaming of competing in the Paralympics.

Cacie, who is a wheelchair user takes part in one to one swimming lessons at Torridge Pool. She has had to overcome many obstacles in her life after having her leg amputated when she was just one year old after problems with her legs which had not developed properly. She has had to endure a lot of pain and cope with numerous operations as she also has a club foot. She was fitted with a prosthetic limb and earlier this year she became wheel chair bound while she waits for another operation on her leg.

Cacie also has a heart condition to contend with as well as her disability but it is swimming that has inspired her. She has always loved the water as when she is in the swimming pool she feels that she is the same as everyone else, according to her mum Claire;

‘Cacie loves swimming, she looks forward to her swimming lesson every week and it has given her back her confidence, she is so much happier at school because of what she can achieve in the water.  When she is in the pool she does not feel different from everyone else and she is making fantastic progress. She has completed her 400 metres badge and is so very determined to complete her 800 metres badge which is next on her list.’

 Cacie swims twice a week with 30 minute sessions every Thursday and Saturday at Torridge pool. These are one to one sessions with swimming teacher Lois Vickers. Claire says that the two of them enjoy a very special bond;

‘Lois has really connected with Cacie, who adores her lessons with her and she has given Cacie so much support.  Through swimming and her time with Lois, Cacie now feels that her dreams are possible and that maybe one day she could compete as a swimmer in the Paralympics. Swimming has been so great for Cacie, it has helped her both mentally and physically, it helps develop her muscles but it also helps her feel so much more confident and better about herself.’

Cacie’s swimming teacher, Lois Vickers has been teaching at Torridge Pool for 20 years and has been specialising in teaching swimming to children with disabilities and learning difficulties for more than ten years. She says that Cacie has made great progress as she is a very determined girl; ‘In just five months Cacie has gone from a nervous swimmer attempting a five- metre swim to completing her 800 metres challenge which is down to her own sheer determination. I am very proud of her and we will work on refining her technique so she can tackle her next challenge.  Cacie has a very supportive family which helps her enormously and I am sure she will do well in what she wants to achieve with her swimming.’

Lois is a very experienced swimming teacher and has taught children with a wide range of disabilities and learning difficulties. ‘Over the years I have taught children with Autism and children with severe physical disabilities and despite the challenges these children face they have all learned to swim. The water is a great equaliser and when they swim they feel they are the same as other children. The water is a magical medium where children can thrive have the freedom and confidence to move and enjoy themselves in a way they can’t do in other areas of their lives. It is a great support not just for the children but their families too.’

For more information about swimming lessons at Torridge Pool please Tel 01237 471794.