Samm – My Story
My name is Samantha, but from being 8 years old pretty much everybody has called me Samm. I am 26 years old and I have been swimming for most of my life. I was diagnosed with Spastic Diaplegia affecting both my legs from birth but at the age of 19 evidence was found that my right arm was also impacted. I was also diagnosed with visual dyslexia at the age of 14, and had struggled with reading all the way through school up until I was given the support that I needed at that age. Since leaving school I have gone on to achieve 3 A levels and 2 AS Levels at college, attended University of Liverpool on a Sports Scholarship where I also achieved my degree in Archaeology before going on to Sheffield Hallam University where I trained to be a Secondary School Chemistry Teacher. I am now trying to achieve the balance between work and training, attempting to keep the best of both worlds.
Where it all began
My introduction to swimming was through swimming lessons, which I started at the age of 6. I found the swimming lessons really difficult as they were not really designed for people with disabilities. It was hard to move through all of the stages when there were things that I just couldn’t do. It took me 6 years, but at the age of 12 I did manage to pass all of the standards to complete all of the stages. But I had started to fall out of love with swimming, as it felt like I didn’t fit anywhere in that world. After about 9 months away from the pool my parents helped me to find a swimming club and then things really started to fall into place. My first coach, Georgina Goodwin, was brilliant and helped me get going again. She also introduced me to her connections in para-swimming. I met with Dame Sarah Storey and soon after attended my first National Para-Swimming Championships. I have competed at these events every year ever since. I swam at the UK School Games in 2008 and the following year was internationally classified as I entered my first British Para-Swimming International Meet in 2009. I attended the trial events for both the London and Rio Paralympics. When I moved back home from University in 2013 I moved to my current swimming club, Satellites of Macclesfield and began working with my current coach, Craig Yates, alongside other amazing coaches whom have been at the club since I started. I have also attended the Cerebral Palsy Nationals for a number of years, and was selected to represent Team England at both the Nottingham 2015 and Sant Cugat 2018 Cerebral Palsy World Games. At the Nottingham Games I won 3 silver medals for the 50m Free, 100m Free, 100m back and became World Champion in the 100m Breaststroke. At the Sant Cugat games last summer I was re-classified and went on to win silver for the 50m Free and 100m Breast as well as becoming World Champion in the 100m Back, 200m IM and 100m Butterfly. I was also nominated for and successful in achieving the CP Sport Swimmer of Year
The Impact on my Life
Swimming has been a massive part of my life for the last 13 years. It has given me some amazing experiences. It has allowed me to stay as mobile as I am. It has allowed me to make some of the best friends I could ever have. As a para-swimmer I have been given the opportunity to go to different cities in this country and to travel abroad to represent my country. I have been given the opportunity to swim in the same pool as some of the best para-swimmers in the world whilst attending the British International Para-Swimming Meet, which now plays host the World Para-Swimming Series. The absolute best experience though was standing in the podium at the CPISRA World Games in an English tracksuit whilst the national anthem plays. That is something I never dreamed I would experience. Swimming has also allowed me to make sure that I can still walk around as much as I am able. Having the opportunity to compete now gives me the reason to train, which allows me to keep my muscles as flexible and mobile as I can. I know that life would be very different if I was not swimming regularly. Finally, and most importantly, through my training and through all the different competitions which I attend I have met lots of amazing people. I now have friends all over the country and the world, and we have such a blast when we get back together at competitions. We all understand each other’s limitations and don’t have to hide anything from each other. They are some of the best people I know. Swimming is also starting to give me some amazing work opportunities, as I have recently been completing coaching courses and I am currently doing some coaching hours for my club.
Goals and Ambitions
I am very fortunate to have achieved a lot of the goals I set myself when I first started training and competing at the age of the 13. I have won regional and national para-swimming medals, I have competed against top line Paralympians, I have been selected to swim for England and when there I have won multiple medals. Since being re-classified in the summer I have been able to set myself some new goals and targets for the next few years. I have never made a final at the British International Para-Swimming Meet or the Swim England Summer Nationals. That is something I would like to achieve, and I aim to one day win a medal in one of these events. I am also aiming to be selected for the next CPISRA World Games. In my new classification there are 2 British Records which I would like to achieve.