Two local lads have returned from Canada with medals and memories after competing in the Down’s Syndrome World Swimming Championships.
Will Lake, 20, from Harrogate, and Will Browning, 16, from Tadcaster, flew to Truro to represent Team GB against nearly 300 other swimmers from across the world.
Joined by mum, Jan Lake, and dad, Ben Browning, the boys helped Team GB secure second place in the seven day competition, with Australia winning overall.
Finally back in Harrogate, Jan said Will was still buzzing from the trip having brought home three Bronze heat medals and even scored two personal bests in the 50m and 200m freestyle stroke heats.
She said: “Will had the best time meeting up with his friends and other country competitors which he had met in Kosovo earlier in the year.
“I asked what was the best part of the competition- “all of it” was his reply!
“We had a great time and watching our young people thrive in a like for like competition was just fantastic and heart warming.”
For proud dad, Ben, the competition had been even more than just an opportunity to win a medal.
“Will and I had a great time in Canada. He has trained hard - he swims three times a week in Harrogate with Will Lake and also swims once a week with Tadcaster Stingrays.
“As a parent I am very proud of Will, he has thrown himself into swimming with great enthusiasm. He always seems to do it with a smile.
“Team GB have become an extended family for us. They meet up for training camps four times a year in different parts of the country.
“They shout about true inclusion and serve as an inspiration to all out there that if you put your mind to it and train hard anything is possible.
“Truro embraced us all and I have never seen a town so proud to be putting on these World games. Our athletes were given high fives wherever they went.
“As a parent I concentrate on Will’s ability not his disability and we as a family have benefited from his determination and enthusiasm in all that he does.”
Ben added that their home village of Stutton had shown huge support to Will and that having his sisters swim with him at Tadcaster Stingwrays had become ‘a highlight’ of his week.
While at the competition Ben asked his son what his favourite thing about swimming was and Will replied: “I love swimming and the best part of being in Team GB is being with my friends.
“This week I have met new friends from across the world.”
Jan also added that the championship was the only opportunity for swimmers with Down’s Syndrome (DS) to compete on a ‘level playing field’.
She said: “Currently swimmers with DS will not be selected to enter Paralympic competition as they can only compete if classed as having a learning disability.
“People with DS have an additional disability in their physical stature, so it is really important to have this world championship where they can all compete on a level playing field until such time as the governing body for swimming realise there needs to be a classification for DS. All our swimmers are pathfinders for the future and raising awareness.”