Boy learns to swim after frightening experience on Eastbourne Pier

Award winner ... Josh Puttick with Mike Goody and Duncan Goodhew

Award winner ... Josh Puttick with Mike Goody and Duncan Goodhew

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Youngster Josh Puttick learned to swim after a frightening experience on Eastbourne Pier ... and now he has really made a splash.

The 11-year-old won a top prize at this year’s Southern Water Learn to Swim Achiever Awards.

Josh, of Southfield, Polegate, was one of the select few to have been nominated for the Achiever of the Year award by their swimming teacher, on this year’s Learn to Swim scheme.

Each year the courage and determination of children who have learned to swim against the odds or performed exceptionally is celebrated, as one child is nominated from each pool.

Olympic gold medallist Duncan Goodhew and Invictus Games gold medallist Mike Goody were at the event in Medway Park, Gillingham, to present the awards to the children.

Josh’s swimming instructor, Michele Boby, nominated the young swimmer for his determination and rapid progress in the pool, having started swimming lessons just two years ago. She said, “Having a hole in his right ear, Josh avoided swimming during his early years. He has a natural aptitude for swimming and has quickly become confident in the pool. He always gives 100 per cent and I am very proud of him.”

Josh’s mum, Kim Whyte, decided swimming lessons were imperative after experiencing the frightening incident on Eastbourne Pier when it caught fire on July 30, 2014. Both Josh and his mum left the pier safely yet felt that lessons were important. He began on the Learn to Swim scheme just two months later and his swim teacher is astounded by his progress.

Kim said, “It doesn’t matter how old you are when you begin - learning to swim is so important, and it’s never too late to learn.”

Learn to Swim supports lessons at 85 pools and clubs across the region and has taught more than 700,000 children to swim since it began in 1992. It is sponsored by Clancy Docwra.

Southern Water’s community campaigns and engagement manager, Beverley Thompson, said, “Celebrating our young achievers is the highlight of the Learn to Swim scheme. But we also want to thank all the instructors at the clubs and pools across our region who give their time and expertise to teach all our young swimmers. Here at Southern Water we are passionate about keeping children safe around water. Next year we celebrate 25 years of Learn to Swim which will be a fantastic milestone for everyone who’s been involved.”

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