Youngster with cerebral palsy makes waves

04 September 2023
man and boy in front of Learn to Swim Signage

Harry with Duncan Scott

Harry met Duncan at an event earlier this year

A boy with cerebral palsy has defied the odds and learning to swim a year after life-changing spinal surgery. 

Seven-year-old Harry Findlater, from Montrose, Angus, is making waves by using swimming to recover from his treatment.

He's been attending Learn to Swim lessons at ANGUSalive's Montrose pool since he was five - and has thrived in the water. 

Now his involvement in Learn to Swim is helping him bounce back from his life-changing surgery.

ANGUSalive is one of 37 aquatic providers delivering The Learn to Swim framework – a partnership between Scottish Swimming and Scottish Water – with the goal of creating ‘Generation Swim’, the next generation of safe and competent swimmers.

Harry’s mum, Lizzie said: “Harry’s journey has not been easy but it’s incredible to see where he is at now. Swimming has improved his confidence massively by being able to do what everyone else can, not to mention acting as vital rehab for Harry.

“Learning to swim provides that sense of inclusivity and provides children with great safety skills for the future so we’re very grateful to all of Harry’s teachers who have invested so much time into his development. Hopefully, Harry’s story can inspire others in similar situations to get in the pool.”

The Learn to Swim programme is open to everyone regardless of disability or skills levels, with the partnership committed to creating a supportive environment for all.

ANGUSalive’s Heather McCallum has been Harry’s swim teach since he started Learn to Swim lessons two years ago. She said: “Harry's progress has been truly impressive. You can see his newfound confidence as he can now swim across the studio pool unaided in front crawl and backstroke.

“Our next focus is on refining his technique and generally building his confidence in the water. He's thriving both in and out the pool and it's been really inspiring as a teacher to watch his progress."

Learn to Swim has already provided lessons to more than 100,000 children and aims to reach another 100,000 by 2025, helping more young people across Scotland stay safe in the water.

Euan Lowe, CEO of Scottish Swimming said: “Learning to swim should be accessible to everyone and anyone. The Learn to Swim programme provides the setting to allow children with disabilities to learn the skill with their peers.

“Not only is swimming a vital life skill but it can improve children’s social skills and health benefits. Harry’s story is a prime example at the positive differences swimming can have on people’s lives.”

The National Framework is delivered by 37 leisure trusts and aquatic providers across more than 160 pools.

Brian Lironi, Director of Corporate Affairs at Scottish Water, said: “Learn to Swim gives all children the opportunity to learn and enjoy swimming in a safe way.

“One of our aims is to create a generation of safe and responsible swimmers as well as emphasise the health benefits that swimming generates, especially at such a young age.

“Harry’s story is proof that everybody can and should learn to swim. Hopefully this will encourage more children and parents to experience the benefits of the learning to swim.”

Learn to Swim is a National Framework committed to creating supportive and quality environments in which children can learn to swim regardless of their age, ability, or skill level. It aims to develop competent swimmers, as well as encouraging youngsters to adopt a healthy and fulfilling lifestyle with sport and fun at its heart to reach their full potential both in the pool and out.  

For more information on the Learn to Swim programme, visit: Learn To Swim