A little mermaid’s dream: Emelia-Paige’s story

Emelia-Paige (6) is no stranger to the water, having been attending swimming lessons since she was six weeks old and completing regular challenges for Darcey’s Dream – a charity that was set up in memory of her little sister – since she turned three. Emelia-Paige joined lessons with SwimNE when she was five years old, and has dreams of becoming a professional swimmer (or a mermaid!) when she is older.

Tell us about Emelia-Paige’s swimming experience before joining SwimNE

“Emelia-Paige has always loved the water,” commented her mum, Petra. “I started taking her to swimming lessons when she was just six weeks old, and she has barely been out of the pool since!”

“When she was three years old, Emelia-Paige started a campaign to raise funds for Darcey’s Dream, which is a charity that we set up after her little sister passed away. As part of this campaign, Emelia-Paige has completed hundreds of #10lengthsforDarcey swims with various celebrities. It means she has spent a lot of time in the water, and swimming is something that is very meaningful to us all as a family.”

“About 18 months ago, we enrolled Emelia-Paige in 1-1 lessons with another swim school. She’d swam since she was tiny, and had spent a lot of time in the water by this point. I felt that 1-1 lessons would be really great for her – I honestly expected her to fly in these sessions. It came as a real shock to me that she didn’t enjoy these classes. It was the first time I’d ever known her to not look forward to going swimming. I don’t know what it was – whether it was the fact they weren’t challenging her enough, or whether she missed learning as a group, but something just didn’t click. So, I took her out of those lessons, and I taught her myself for a few months.”

What made you decide to join SwimNE?

“After the first lockdown, PaddlePod very kindly offered Darcey’s Dream use of their pools for our campaign swims. They are such beautiful pools, and I saw all that excitement that Emelia-Paige had for swimming come rushing back – it was amazing!”

Petra added: “It was through PaddlePod that we were introduced to SwimNE. We spoke to the team, and they helped us find lessons for Emelia-Paige that would challenge her and allow her to perfect her swimming skills.”

What was your first lesson with SwimNE like?

“Emelia-paige absolutely loved it,” commented Petra. “She was familiar with the pool already, and instantly took to Matt, her swimming instructor. I wasn’t expecting this to happen so quickly as Emelia-Paige can take a little while to come around to new people, particularly males. In all the years that I’ve been taking her – and the other kids – swimming, I’ve never seen an instructor who engages so well with the children in the water. I couldn’t be happier.”

What does Emelia-Paige love most about her lessons?

“The fact that she is being challenged, and always learning something new. Even when she is practicing skills that she already knows, Matt finds ways to teach them in new and exciting ways and that is brilliant for a child like Emelia-Paige who gets bored easily.”

“She’s a very sociable little girl, too,” commented Petra. “It’s been great for her to learn in a group, and she has progressed so much in just a short period of time with SwimNE.”

We’ve mentioned Darcey’s Dream already; what does Emelia-Paige dream of being when she grows up?

“A swimmer,” laughed Petra. “She does at least one campaign swim every week, and then she has her lessons as well. That girl was born to be in the water! She absolutely loves being underwater as well. Before Christmas, her and the other children in the class were practicing handstands and loads of other underwater skills in their lesson. Emelia-Paige wouldn’t stop talking about it for weeks! I’m pretty sure she must have been a mermaid in a former life!”

For more information on Darcey’s Dream and the #10lengthsforDarcey campaign that Emelia-Paige champions, please visit https://www.darceysdream.com.