Jessica-Jane Applegate celebrates a decade of the British Learning Disability Swimming Championships by challenging swimmers to a race.
150 swimmers from across the UK competed at The British Learning Disability Swimming Championships at the Wales National Pool in Swansea on Saturday 22 and Sunday 23 August.
This year marked the 10th anniversary of The Championships, run jointly by Mencap and Special Olympics GB, and sponsored by Westfield Health.
Paralympics gold medallist and Mencap ambassador Jessica-Jane Applegate, who has a learning disability and started her swimming career by taking part in Mencap swimming galas like these Championships, attended the event and challenged swimmers to race against her.
Jessica-Jane Applegate said:
It was great to attend the Swimming Championships and see some of the best swimmers who happen to have a learning disability compete. Mencap swimming galas were where I had my first experiences of competing at large organised events. A massive well done to everyone who took part and thank you for everyone who made this event possible!
I was really impressed, and fancied seeing if anyone wanted to challenge me to race. They were good competition and I am sure through events like this we will hopefully see more people with a learning disability go on and compete for Olympic gold at the Paralympics.
Martin Lees, National Sport Manager for Mencap, said:
I'd like to say a huge thank you to all the swimmers, volunteers, and coaches for their hard work. This was the tenth year the championships were held and the competition has been really great to watch. This event is a celebration of the achievements of elite swimmers and reminds us all that people with a learning disability should have the opportunity to take part in elite sport.
95% of those taking part in the Swimming Championship are registered with the Special Olympics GB - the largest provider of year-round sports training and competition for all people with a learning disability.
Andy Heffer, Director of Sports & Development at Special Olympics GB, said:
The Mencap and Special Olympics GB national swimming competition has become an important part of the calendar for swimmers with an intellectual disability. Some swimmers will have the chance to show that they have the potential to progress to higher levels of competition including - possibly - the Paralympics. Just as significantly, however, it brings together athletes of all abilities and gives them opportunities for participation and success and to qualify for events such as the 2017 Special Olympics GB National Summer Games in Sheffield.
The event is also significant as a symbol of Mencap and Special Olympics GB's shared commitment to increase participation in sport and physical activity by people with an intellectual disability.
Westfield Health Chairman, Graham Moore, commented:
We are delighted to have sponsored The British Learning Disability Swimming Championships. This important event highlights that people with a learning disability can compete as elite athletes - a message we're very proud to be spreading.