Our second instalment from our stories from the past 25 years. Today we revisit the story of nine-year-old Conor Bryceland who in early 2014 shone like a star through swimming.
Nine-year-old Conor Bryceland from Chandlers Ford was diagnosed on the autistic spectrum about a year ago, although he has had the condition all his life. Autism and its related conditions have many upsides, such as giving clarity of thought and original thinking. But it often means that doing new things makes the person very anxious.
It normally takes Conor longer than most to become confident in a new skill and when it came to learning to swim, it took him three years…but he never gave up. As a reward, he picked up three medals – two bronze and a gold – in his very first swimming gala at Romsey Rapids Sports Complex and earned himself the fantastic feeling of enormous satisfaction.
His mum Lorraine said: “Learning to swim has transformed him. It’s hard to believe that the little boy who, only a couple of years ago, clung limpet-like to the side of the pool, too scared to let go is the same child who now leaps, grinning happily, into a 3m pool then takes off underwater without a second thought.
“The patience showed by Ann Bartholomew, his swimming teacher at The Rapids, was a huge factor.”
Conor won prizes in front crawl, back crawl and breast stroke. He delighted everyone around him.
Sue Perkins, swimming coordinator at The Rapids, said: “We are really, really proud of Conor. He’s worked so hard and overcome lots of challenges. He is a star and we’re delighted for him.”