|In the Beginning
The Reading Cygnets Swimming Club was founded in 1981 by Pam Weekes and Doreen Gardiner, both mothers of Down Syndrome children, after they saw athletes with learning disabilities competing in a day of sport organised by the Special Olympic Movement. They were moved to persuade Reading Borough Council to allocate weekly one-hour swimming sessions at Highdown School and Reading Central Pool, where the first six Cygnets members began swimming socially with their families.
The results of the 2016 Reading LD Open held on 2/3 July are available here
The results of the 2016 DSSF European Swimming Championships held on 16/17 April in Southampton are available here
The Reading Cygnets SC have been voted Reading's Top Club for 2015!
For past News items see the Archive page
The same year, two of the swimmers - Paul Parsons and Chris Phillips - competed in their first Special Olympics Games in Knowsley, Merseyside, and both returned home with medals. The ensuing local publicity attracted more learning disability members and the Club began competing in local and national galas.
Mrs Weeks was moving away from Reading and asked Christopher’s father - Ron Phillips - to take over the running of the Club. With the increasing membership, he decided that a more structured system was needed and the Cygnets went on to become a fully competitive Club. The Club became a Registered Charity in 1993 (No. 1028750) and is affiliated to the Amateur Swimming Association (ASA) and Special Olympics Great Britain.
Ron Phillips, MBE, continued as Chairman of the Club until 2008 when he retired and was succeeded by Gordon Dart.
The Club Today
From the original six swimmers, the current membership stands at approx 40. Training currently takes place at Reading Central Pool, Battle Street for one hour on Sundays - the main Club night - and up to two hours on Saturdays. A condition of membership is that swimmers attend for training on at least two Sundays a month. The Saturday training is structured to increase stamina and provide opportunities for improving stroke techniques. Swimmers are allocated to one of the six lanes in the pool according to their ability, to enable them to gain the maximum benefit from the training. Each lane has its own qualified coach, all of whom are volunteers.
Our swimmers continue to compete with much success in local, national and international galas, and we host our own National Learning Disability Gala in June each year.
Joining the Club
Membership of the Club is open to swimmers with a learning disability from the age of 7 years, who are capable of swimming at least one length of the pool (25 metres) without swimming aids. We do not have the capacity at the present time to teach beginners. We are in a position to welcome new swimmers, and anyone interested in joining the Club is invited to attend for an informal assessment by one of the Club’s coaches.
If you are interested in hearing more about the Club, or wish to apply for membership, please contact our Chairman and Team Manager, Gordon Dart, whose details are given on the Contact page.
Reading Cygnets has and operates to the following mission statement:
"To embrace the diversity of all individuals and celebrate all differences through the opportunity to compete at local, regional, national and international levels. Our athletes transcend the boundaries of geography, nationality, political philosophy, gender, age, culture and religion. It is the common pursuit of achievement and the shared moment of victory which brings even the most diverse people together. This spirit of unity in the sporting arena, in families and in communities throughout the country and across the globe makes for a better way of life for all. The Reading Cygnets Swimming Club celebrates the fundamental commonality of all people. Together, we can learn to accept each other and this allows us all to contribute to society and to the world we all share."
The aim of Reading Cygnets is to promote disability swimming locally, in an atmosphere where all swimmers can experience the fun of competition and reach their full potential. Swimmers are able to compete at their own ability level and go as far as possible from club to county to national standard and beyond. The Reading Cygnets Swimming Club provides an atmosphere where members will find swimming an enjoyable experience, where the club will become a way of life and members will find friends for life. As well as the swimming side of the club there is a good social side which includes attending open meets away at which there is time for fun after the swimming is over.