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Spectrum pupil Harry to compete at swimming World Championship

Harry Humphries, a member of the Spectrum Work Experience programme and the Community Foundation’s Project Rugby, has been selected to swim for DS Team GB in July’s World Championships in Canada.

Harry, who has Down's Syndrome, recently returned from a DS European Open Championship in Kosovo and has come a long way in a very short space of time, having only taken up competitive swimming a little over one year ago.

He swims with Bristol Sharks – a special needs swimming club in Bradley Stoke – where he trains three times a week.

“Last April, I sent Harry and his Dad, Warwick off to a swimming gala in Southampton as he had just started to swim in galas” said Harry’s mother, Betty.

“This was of particular interest, because most of the galas he swims in are under the Special Olympic rules. This means that Harry can be swimming against other competitors with a learning difficulty, or a physical disability.

“This can be as diverse as people being lowered into the pool on a hoist, to somebody with dyslexia.  The particular competition in Southampton was solely for people with Down’s Syndrome. Harry was spotted by a DS Team GB coach and was invited to attend a training camp in Nottingham.”

Harry’s times got progressively quicker and he was then invited to join Team GB in Paris in a European Open Championship last November.

His mother, Betty, then appealed to a local mainstream club, Soundwell Swimming Club at Kingwood to enhance Harry’s training, with the club offering him one hour a week.

And Harry’s – and Betty’s – efforts were soon rewarded with a place at his first World Championship. Harry has been entered into six races: the 50m, 100m, and 200m backstroke, the 50m and 100m freestyle, and the 50m butterfly.

He has a way to go to get into final heats, which would then give him the opportunity to win a medal, but leading up to the Championships Harry has stepped up the training to seven times a week.

In the words of the Special Olympic Oath: “Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt”

Everyone at Bristol Sport wishes Harry the very best of luck in Canada and looks forward to following his progress.