How a young girl beat her phobia of the water to be nominated for a national award in just TWO years

A local girl has conquered her fear of the water to be nominated for a national swimming award in the space of two years – thanks to the help of Wigston Pool & Fitness Centre.

Alice Bettinson, 11, was recently put forward for the Learn To Swim Rising Star Award at the Swim England awards, which was held at the University of Birmingham last month, and returned home clutching the runner’s up prize.

That very scenario would have been unimaginable in 2016 when she was, in her mother’s words, petrified of the water.

“Whenever we went swimming as a family, Alice would cling to my neck – even in the shallow end,” Amy Bettinson, 44, said.

“We got to a stage, in October 2016, where we had to get her to do lessons. We booked in at Wigston Pool & Fitness Centre really quickly and when she had her first lesson, she was so apprehensive.”

That feeling of unease, however, would last only for a few weeks.

Under her tutor, Georgina Crofts, and later Mark Pemberton, Alice rose through the hat ranks and, today, is working through Stage 7. She has raised money for MacMillan Cancer Support by completing a Swimathon by swimming 16 lengths in just 13 minutes.

As well as growing in confidence as a person thanks to her swimming, Alice has developed a ‘special’ relationship.

“Gina (Georgina Crofts) gave her the confidence to take what was a pretty big step when it came to the water and really helped her through some tough periods,” Amy added.

“It’s the same with Mark too. They have a bit of banter and they have both been great with her. Swimming is such a priceless life skill and to see how Alice is blossomed off the back of this has been incredible. We still cannot believe the transformation.”

Her efforts in the pool led to her being nominated for the Learn To Swim Rising Star award by Georgina Crofts ahead of the recent Swim England national awards day last month.

Alice, Amy and her dad Simon enjoyed an afternoon to remember in Birmingham, as they met former GB Olympic, Commonwealth and World Championship diver, Leon Taylor, and Amiee Willmott, who represented Team GB at Olympic and World Championship level and concluded her evening by claiming the Rising Star runners-up prize.

James Naylor, contract manager for Everyone Active, said: “Our swim scheme is incredibly popular here in Wigston and it is pleasing that it is making an impact. This is a remarkable story and is a real life example of how big a role swimming can play in a child’s life. It’s not just in the pool that Alice has benefitted, but outside of it too and Georgina and Mark have played a big part in that over the last two years.”