Family praise swim support lessons


The family of a young boy who has autism and Down’s Syndrome has praised the swimming support lessons he attends.

Fraser McAlpine (11) attends lessons for children with disabilities at Eastwood High Sports Centre and, with the help of the instructors,is making great progress.

He is one of a number of children benefiting from the dedicated disability swimming programme.

Fraser’s mum Joanne said: “Fraser absolutely loves swimming and although he does not speak, it is obvious how much he enjoys it. He is really excited when we drive into the car park as he knows he has his swimming lesson.

“The instructors are so patient and his ability to swim has improved immensely.”

Since starting with the club, Fraser has been working with instructor Paul Crichton, and learning to reduce the support of armbands.

Karen Baxter, from the lessons team, said: “Each week Fraser arrives smiling and eager to take part. Through swimming, he has developed a great confidence in the water and thoroughly enjoys being in the pool, especially underwater. He is making great progress.”

Fraser appeared in The Extra earlier this year, as his family are fundraising for for an autism service dog, which will help make him feel calm and safe, as well as further developing his independence — for more info, visit

Lead teacher Andrea Cassells has restructured the classes, improved the pool layout and introduced specialised groups. One-to-one lessons are also available.

Karen added: “A number of swimmers are now able to complete full lengths using various stroke techniques and, inspired by their success, we are creating opportunities to take their swimming to the next level.”

She praised the ‘dedication and commitment’ of teachers Andrea and Paul and said they worked closely with colleagues to make ERCL’s disabled lessons programme a real success story.

“It is everyone’s job to make these lessons fun, enjoyable and a superb learning experience.”