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National Down’s Syndrome Swimming Gala.
It’s that time of year again – it hardly seems any time since I was telling you all about last years adventure. On Saturday 16 September 2007, the May Philips National Down’s Syndrome gala was held at Reading. There were 9 swimmers this year in the Scotland West Team, namely Fiona Dawson, Caroline Fraser, Laura Arbuckle, Catherine Kennedy, Nicola Keppie, Paul Fraser, David Weston, Christopher Marshall and Sam Pattinson.
On Friday the day before the gala we set out on our journey. As the swimmers met there was some serious team bonding (hugs) and then off we went, to the sound of cheering and singing “We are The Champions”. As the miles went by the mini bus got quieter as the swimmers started playing their games, watching personal dvd’s and listening to their i pods - ah bliss. Arriving at the Travelodge the mini bus was soon emptied as everyone settled into their rooms before we all headed out for dinner and got to know the new swimmers and their families joining us this year.
The next day after breakfast the swimmers waited patiently till it was time to go. The gala didn’t start until 2pm, so plenty of time for some team photo’s. As we all got into the minibus to make the short trip to the swimming pool there was a mixture of excitement and nerves (parents and swimmers) but the swimmers couldn’t wait to get into the pool. When it was their turn to swim, each swimmer got lots of encouragement and best wishes from their fellow team members and supporters. When each swimmer returned with a medal (which they all did) there was even more excitement. An amazing total of 32 medals were won by the Scotland West Team. The gala ended with two 4 x 25m relay races, 1 male and 1 female, although our male team consisted of 3 males and Fiona. After lots of cheering and waving of flags, the girls won a bronze medal, quickly followed by the boys and Fiona finishing 1st and taking gold. An even bigger cheer went up when it was announced that Scotland West had won the Challenge Shield for the male relay which was presented to the swimmers. This led to lots of serious team bonding. It was a fantastic and very well organised gala. The team and supporters would like to thank everyone involved.
It was then back to the Travelodge for a quick change and then out to the Beefeater Restaurant for a well deserved celebratory meal. The swimmers proudly wore their medals and placed the shield on their table. A lovely evening was enjoyed by all.
Next day it was time to head back home. It wasn’t long before all the excitement caught up with everybody and they started dozing (except of course for the driver)
This year the minibus and associated costs were funded by Kwik Fit Insurance Services (www.Kwik-FitInsurance.com), who also supplied the team with T -shirts. This was very much appreciated by all involved and a big thank you goes to Kwik Fit Insurance Charity Committee for this funding. Thank you.
The team and supporters would like to say a big thank you to everyone who gave donations, prizes or bought raffle tickets to help fund all other additional expenses i.e swimmers entry fees to the gala and travelling expenses for those swimmers unable to travel by minibus. Our thanks again must also go to Down’s Syndrome Scotland, West Of Scotland Branch, for their continued support and who kindly funded our accommodation expenses.
Since returning, 3 of our Scotland West swimmers have been invited to train with the Great Britain Down’s Syndrome Swimming Team, with a possibility of being in the team attending the international swimming gala being held in Portugal in November 2008. This makes 5 swimmers in total from Scotland West as 2 were invited to join the training after last years gala. Well done!
This trip and last years have both been a great success. It was great to see the swimmers enjoying the whole weekend as a team. They enjoyed the whole trip from start to finish and all got on very well.
Anyone wishing further information regarding swimming can contact myself at d.keppie (at) ntlworld.com
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