Sharks Swimming Group for People with Disabilities, based in Stockport, create an environment where people with disabilities, general health issues and long-term illnesses can enjoy the local swimming pool. The aim is provide a safe and relaxing place for individuals to swim, away from the bustle of usual swimming sessions.

Swimmers use Sharks Swimming’s facilities because it is quieter than a public swim. Some have disabilities or health problems, and some are recovering from surgery or undergoing treatment for cancer. The group provides help and support if asked and provides an atmosphere where nobody feels different or out of place.

One attendee is Matthew who is 7 years old and has severe athetoid cerebral palsy. He is dependent on an adult for all of his needs. Matthew has been attending Sharks Swimming Club for over two years and loves every minute of it. His confidence in the water has steadily increased and he can now, with the right equipment, float around on his own. When Matthew is in the water he feels free, as he isn’t restricted by the straps on his wheelchair. It also allows him to build up his muscle strength and improve his posture.

Matthew has an older brother, James, who has ADHD. James also attends Sharks Swimming Group. This is invaluable to all his family as it gives the boys bonding time together, whilst allowing James to use up excess energy. As Matthew and James need round-the-clock care, it also gives his parents half an hour to sit and relax, knowing that they are both safe and enjoying themselves.

The club is run entirely by volunteers and was established to provide people with disabilities and their families the opportunity to swim in a safe and controlled environment, whilst keeping it as close to an open session as possible.