TEENAGE swimming sensation, Sam Craddock, who has Down Syndrome, is making waves in and out the pool in pursuit of his paralympic dream.
At the 2022 West Dorset Swimming Club Gala, he beat able-bodied competitors to pick up a silver in the 50m breaststroke and a bronze in the 50m freestyle; at the British Down Syndrome Championships in November 2022, he took home a silver for the 200m freestyle and a bronze for the 25m freestyle.
Mum, Annette said: “He’s always loved the water, I’ve encouraged him to do anything he wants to.
“He’s been a member at West Dorset Swimming Club for two years now. I’m hugely proud.”
Sam is a member of Shine 21, the Down Syndrome Support Group featured in October as part of the BVM’s coverage of Down Syndrome Awareness Month.
Annette, 63, received a prenatal diagnosis of Sam’s Down Syndrome.
“It was a little bit of a shock, but once we got our head around it, we were able to prepare ourselves,” the Dorchester-based mum said. “It was a difficult time, but I wouldn’t have wanted to go through life without him.
“He brings laughter and joy everywhere.”
The positive impact of swimming on Sam’s life cannot be understated.
“His overall health is really good, his physique really changed when he started swimming – and he’ll happily go up to adults and children of all ages and ask them questions. He’s a chatterbox.”
Despite his continued success in the pool, Sam still faces unique challenges.
“The competitions, it’s a different environment. They’re noisy, they’re structured, there’s lots of waiting around. The shorter events suit him better.”
He’s the only disabled child at the swimming club. In rural areas, it can be hard to find support and opportunities.
“I’m looking to get him into paralympic galas but the nearest is Reading. They’ve invited him for tryouts.
“My pockets are not lined with gold, we need help to help these children fulfil their potential.”