Inspire Me - Tom Cole
Friday, 29th June 2012.
Since learning to swim with Haverhill Leisure Centre’s Swim Scheme, Tom Cole has become a world record holder, winning many medals.
Tom, 23, who has Downs Syndrome, enrolled in the swim scheme aged eight after being encouraged by his parents who wanted him to be safe in the water and find an exercise that he would enjoy.
His mum Barbara said: “Because Tom has Downs it is very difficult for him to take part in team games such as football because he doesn’t understand how to be a team player.
"But Tom really took to swimming and it didn’t take him too long to pick it up. He is now more confident in the water than he is out of it.”
Tom’s confidence in the water led him to win two gold medals and two silver medals in the World Downs Championships in Taiwan in 2010, and in April 2012 became the Downs world record holder in the 800m freestyle. He will compete next in the World Downs Championships in Italy in November.
Tom, from Great Waldingfield, trains in the pool six times a week at Haverhill Leisure Centre as well as swimming with swim scheme and West Suffolk Swimming Club and he also goes to the gym twice a week. Tom’s mum says it has changed his life.
Barbara added: “When he misses a session in the gym he hates it. It really makes him feel better. Also it makes him think of what he is eating. He likes healthy food not fast food.
"People who have Downs have a shorter life expectancy than others and by keeping active Tom will have a much better chance of living as long as a normal person.
"He caught pneumonia when he was five so his lungs were quite weak, and was always going down with chest infections but exercising in and out of the pool has made him a lot fitter and healthier.
“Being active has really changed his life in so many ways. Beyond getting fit it has increased his confidence, makes him feel good, keeps his mind in good shape, given him a social life and two gold medals and a record to boot.”
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