Banbury boy overcomes mobility and verbal challenges to achieve swimming success
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Five -year-old Greyson Knowles was recently awarded the Stage 1 badge by the Water Babies Bucks and Beds swimming school.
He has a unique and unnamed genetic condition characterised by a duplication on his 8p chromosome and a deletion on his 20p chromosome.
Greyson is the only known individual with this specific combination of genetic traits, which result in him being non-verbal and facing mobility challenges.
Despite the challenges posed by the rare condition, he has become an enthusiastic swimmer and gained confidence and friends through the activity.
Greyson’s mum, Laura, said: “Greyson has been attending Water Babies since he was tiny, his older sister also went there when she was little, and we wanted to provide equal opportunities for both our children.
"Ever since he started, Greyson has developed a strong love for the water and enjoys the music and singing incorporated into the classes. He appreciates the structured and consistent nature of the classes, and it’s heartwarming to see how the other children in the class include him and make him feel like part of the group.”
The classes have encouraged Greyson’s movement confidence and played a pivotal role in helping him navigate sensory issues and water confidence skills.
Laura added: “The teachers were really supportive and helped him overcome this important safety skill through gradual exposure.
“The classes are inclusive, and many teachers use Makaton, a communication tool for young people with disabilities, to assist Greyson, who, despite being non-verbal, has excellent receptive language skills.”
"When he received his Stage 1 badge, he was over the moon. He also enjoys getting stickers, which he proudly sticks onto his t-shirt and doesn’t stop touching all day. Anything like that really boosts his sense of pride and is incredible to see.”
The classes are run by Tamsin Brewis, who launched Water Babies almost 20 years ago with the aim of making swimming accessible to all children, regardless of their physical or genetic challenges.
Tamsin said: “We invest a lot of time and resources into adapting where necessary to suit the little ones who swim with us. It’s because of this that Greyson can swim.”