Catriona – My Story
I was born with Cerebral Palsy and my weaker right arm and right leg affect my balance, and my right eye has poor peripheral vision. At aged 6, I was diagnosed with epilepsy. My various disabilities affect my day-to-day living, but I find life particularly challenging on days when I have severe pain in my tightened muscles. I have learnt to live with the difficulties but sometimes they do get me down.
Where it all began
When I was young, my physiotherapist advised my parents to take me swimming to improve my mobility. I therefore took up swimming as a hobby. Having achieved medals in county and regional galas, I was invited to train with Jill Stidever at Leicester Penguins and subsequently with Loughborough Town Swimming Club. I regularly compete at county, regional, national levels since aged 12, and more recently at international events.
The impact on my life
Although my epilepsy is controlled under medication, during a training session, I had a seizure in the water unexpectedly and I was nearly drowned. Although I was rescued, I was very shaken by what happened and felt anxious every time I swam. I had to pluck up all my courage to keep trying, but only after a long time that I slowly rebuilt my confidence in the water. I had had a few minor seizures since but I have grown stronger mentally and psychologically, and will always get back into training no matter how hard it is. I am determined never to let the episodes hold me back.
Over the years, I have received a lot of help and support from others, and in April 2018, I decided to take part in a Swimathon with two other swim mates also with special needs. Our aspiration was to help those in need and I raised over £300 in the 5K swim. I want the whole world to understand that people with disabilities like myself are capable of helping others too.
I qualified to take part in the Paralympic Trials in Glasgow in 2016, and have twice got in the finals of National Championships. I was extremely proud to be in the England Team for CP World Games in Barcelona in August 2018. Winning 2 gold and 1 silver medals for my country was an awesome experience.
Goals and ambitions
I will continue to train hard and want to encourage those with special needs to take up a sport, as I have learnt that through commitment, hard work and resilience that I am able to achieve more than I ever imagined. Swimming was once my hobby, but now it has turned into my passion.