Grantham Journal Big Interview: Teen is Paralympic star in the making

Hayley Milne
Hayley Milne
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Talented swimmer Hayley Milne has certainly earned the Grantham is Great Youth Achiever Award.

Refusing to let her cerebral palsy and hemiplegia hold her back, the 16-year-old from Park Road, Allington, can be found training at Grantham’s Meres six days a week. Her dedication to the sport has led to her being spotted as a potential future Paralympian, and last year she won four gold medals for England at the Cerebral Palsy World Games. We spoke to Hayley to find out more.

* How did you get into swimming and what do you enjoy about it?

I learnt to swim aged five at the local swim school with my twin sister, Kathryn. I progressed up the levels until my disability became more challenging. I then joined Grantham Lynx, the local disability swimming club. In 2011 I joined Grantham Swimming Club, where my older sister, Jenny, swims too, and I joined their competitive squad. I am the club’s only swimmer with a disability. Currently I train at The Meres Leisure Centre six times a week. On some days I train early in the morning, then go to college, before returning to the pool for another training session. I enjoy pushing myself in training and look forward to competitions. I like feeling fit and working hard. I have lots of friends within the sport, both able-bodied and disabled. I can’t imagine life without swimming!

* You have clearly never let your disability hold you back.

Never – I’ll have a go at most things! My condition means that the whole of my right side is weaker and has restricted movement, but I try to not let this stop me from trying anything. In swimming I have adapted my strokes to allow for my condition. For example, I swim the butterfly stroke using just one arm. I would always encourage anyone with a disability to swim – it is so good for the body. If they then find that they enjoy it and want to improve their swimming further, then they should contact their local swimming club and give it a go.

* How was the experience of swimming for England at the Cerebral Palsy World Games?

It was a fantastic experience. I was there for a week staying with the England swimming squad at the athletes’ village. We trained for three days and then competed for three days. I won four gold medals for 50m freestyle, 100m freestyle, 100m breaststroke and 200m individual medley. The team spirit was amazing – we all got on so well and supported each other. I felt so proud at the medal ceremonies. The medals were awarded by Paralympians – it was great!

* And a question for the family – how proud are you of Hayley’s achievements?

Hayley’s mum, Sharon: As a family we are extremely proud of Hayley and everything that she has achieved. She is a very determined person – what she has achieved in swimming is remarkable. We are so proud of her.

* The next Grantham Journal Big Interview will feature fellow Grantham is Great Youth Achiever winner William Hawkes.