Ruby vs Preconceptions: This Girl Can – #100days100stories

In January Sport England launched the This Girl Can campaign to celebrate active women everywhere. The campaign immediately became a sensation with the video being shared widely. One of the stars of This Girl Can, Ruby, has Down’s syndrome. Ruby and her Mum Elaine talk about her involvement with the campaign.

Elaine

I call Ruby my water baby as she’s such a keen swimmer. However, there’s one thing that makes her different to other girls of her age, which is that she has Down’s syndrome and was born with a hole in her heart. But she doesn’t let that stop her – Ruby has a real talent and passion for swimming and trains two to three times a week and also does synchronised swimming.

Like Ruby I also began swimming when I was younger, but I didn’t have parents who encouraged me to exercise when growing up. I started going to a swimming pool near Holloway Road in London, where the lifeguards would give me tips on how to improve my strokes. I quickly fell in love with swimming and used to go five to six times a week.

I could tell Ruby had a natural ability from the beginning and she started having lessons from the age of 6 months old. Knowing how important exercise is for health and well being, I’ve invested a great deal of time teaching Ruby everything I know and seeing the joy she gets from it puts a huge smile on my face. Even though she trains just as much as the other girls, people are always surprised at how good she is – I taught her how to swim and do water aerobics and she is now better than me!

Ruby says swimming gives her a real sense of freedom, supported by the water she is really flexible and can do much more with her body, we still swim and do water aerobics together, having handstands and forward roll competitions – it’s a big part of our lives and a great activity for a mother and daughter to share.

Ruby

I have to thank my mum for getting me into swimming, she taught me when I was just a few months old and since then I’ve gone from strength to strength – I’m now a member of the Hoddeson Swimming Club in Hertfordshire and compete in the junior Special Olympics and I’m also a member of Aqualinia Synchronised swimming club in Stevenage. Training with children of all abilities really helped build my confidence and I’m really proud of what I’ve achieved. I’ve won a few silver medals and one gold and would say to any girl who wants to swim, just dive in!

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