George tipped for para stardom

A FAST improving Kirkby Lonsdale para swimmer has added to his list of achievements by winning two medals at the English Schools Swimming Association Championships in Sheffield.

George Longley, 10, is already earning comparisons with multiple medal winning UK Paralympic star Ellie Simmonds after racking up a host of honours despite only beginning competitive swimming last year.

And he has just returned from Sheffield Ponds where he was part of the North West Para relay team which achieved silver and the North Para relay team, which secured bronze.

George, who trains with Carnforth Otters Swim Club, is now competing across the UK and even clocked up a swim time close to Paralympian golden girl Simmonds, who grabbed the nation’s attention at the 2008 Summer Paralympics in Beijing when she won two gold medals aged just 13.

It’s an impressive achievement for George, who has a condition called Achondraplasia, which means that his bones do not grow proportionately.

“Because of his condition he could not lift his head out of the water to breathe and so it took some time and one-to-one lessons for him to learn how to do that, but he just loved swimming,” said mum Lisa, who said his improvement was rapid from that point.

“It was then that we noticed that he was swimming better, further and faster than most his age,” said Mrs Longley.

“Ellie Simmonds’ mum Val recommended he join a club and the North West disability swimming squad recommended Carnforth Otters.”

George only competed in his first-ever officially licensed gala in October 2018, but secured a time quick enough to qualify for the National Junior Para Championships in Birmingham as a category S6 swimmer – the same category as Simmonds.

George, who also who also plays hockey, tennis and cricket, swam in the age 10-13 age category despite being only nine, and came away with two silver medals.

Last month at the Dwarf Sports Association Gala – despite competing in the U14 age category – George not only came away with a gold in 25m backstroke, 2 PBs and silver medals in 25m and 50m freestyle, a bronze medal in butterfly and another silver for the mixed-age relay, but also won an award for the closest time to Simmonds’ fastest time at the same age.

“We are incredibly proud of George and he just keeps pushing himself to get better and better,” said Mrs Simmonds, and Carnforth Otters coach Steve Maher agreed.

“George’s progress over the last 12 months has simply been a joy to see,” he said.

“His progress represents the fruits of all his hard work, enthusiasm and his constant desire to improve.

“We think George will go far in Para swimming.”

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