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Swimming the length of the channel for Connor

A Newbury woman wants her 10-year-old pupil to carry on learning to swim

Fiona Tomas

Fiona Tomas


01635 886639

Swimming the length of the channel for Connor

A NEWBURY swimming instructor is aiming to swim the length of the English Channel so that one of her pupils with cerebral palsy can continue progressing in the pool.

Jess Taylor is preparing to swim 200 kilometres over the course of seven days in May half-term to raise funds so that her 10-year-old pupil Connor McMillan-Talbot can carry on learning to swim.

Connor has spastic quadriplegia, a specific type of cerebral palsy that makes it difficult for him to control movement in his arms and legs.

But since starting a 10-week one-to-one swimming programme with Miss Taylor at Northcroft Leisure Centre earlier this year, Connor has progressed from strength to strength.

At first, the Speenhamland Primary School pupil could only manage to swim five metres unaided on his front, but in his last lesson the pair had together, he swum an incredible 200m.

Now his 10-week course has come to an end, Miss Taylor is desperate to raise enough money to enable the determined youngster to continue improving.

She is hoping her fundraising effort will allow Connor to carry on swimming lessons for a year.  

Starting on Saturday, May 25, the challenge will involve her swimming 5k every day, while juggling her work commitments as a full-time instructor.

Miss Taylor, who teaches swimming six days a week and is a qualified lifeguard, said: “Connor is literally amazing.

“He is so much fun – he has me in stitches every lesson.

“He never moans about anything.

“He gives everything his best go and he is so determined.”

It is the first time Miss Taylor has taught someone with cerebral palsy, but the unique bond the pair have struck together has motivated the 24-year-old to take up the challenge.

She said: “He has improved so much that I wanted to do something for him.”

“Connor has inspired me so much.

“His dream is to be a Paralympian – that’s all he goes on about.

“Swimming enables Connor to move freely without his wheelchair.

“It’s also a great form of exercise for him and helps with his muscle stiffness.

“He absolutely loves swimming as it enables him to have fun while learning a life skill.”

Such is Connor’s determination and love of the sport, he wants to complete Miss Taylor’s epic challenge by accompanying her on the last 200m of her swim.

In order to maximise her fundraising appeal, Miss Taylor will not be charging for the teaching time for Connor’s lessons.

Each lesson will cost £12.75, which covers the cost of the hire of Northcroft Leisure Centre pool.  

To sponsor Miss Taylor, visit swimming-the-distance-of-the-channel-for-connor   

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