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

Hayley Milne
Hayley Milne

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.


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