In July 2012, 9 – year – old Maisie Summers – Newton from Wollaston in Northamptonshire attended a Para-Swimming Talent Identification event organised by Northamptonshire Sport, the Amateur Swimming Association and Northampton Swimming Club. Having impressed the coaches who ran the event Maisie progressed on to the British Para-Swimming talent pathway and started competing at events around the country.
To assist Maisie with the additional costs of training and competing at this level she successfully applied for support from the Champions Fund held by the Northamptonshire Community Foundation in 2014 and 2015. This helped her to achieve success in events like the National Para-Swimming Championships in Sheffield, the National School Games in Loughborough and British International Para-Swimming Championships in Glasgow. Maisie’s explained how the money from the Champions Fund helped her during that 2 year period:
“The Champions Fund grants provided me with the extra financial support I needed to help me achieve my seasonal goals. They contributed towards the additional equipment, coaching, travel, accommodation and competition costs that were needed to help me develop further towards the next level in my sport.”
Maisie, unfortunately, missed a substantial amount of the 2015 – 16 season due to injury and the chances of selection for the British Paralympics team who competed in Rio as a result. She used this disappointment as an extra source of motivation for the future, and started training harder than ever to make up for lost time.
Maisie’s dedication to training and the hard work of her coaches at Northampton Swimming Club, not to mention the great support of her family has led to her having her best season to date in 2016 – 17. She finished it ranked number 1 in the world for the S6 class 100m Breaststroke, 100m Backstroke and 200m Individual Medley.
All of these achievements resulted in Maisie’s selection for the British Para-Swimming Podium Potential squad. She competed for the national senior team for the first time at the IPC World Series event held in Berlin at the start of July where she showed no sign of nerves to win 3 medals.
Then only a few weeks later came Maisie’s performances that finished off her amazing season in perfect fashion. At the National Championships in Sheffield having only just turned 15 – years – old, Maisie won the 200m Individual Medley and 100m Breaststroke where she broke the European record in the final, narrowly missing out on the world record by 0.04 seconds. She also won a silver in the 400m freestyle and 50m Butterfly.
All of the achievements mentioned above have resulted in Maisie recently winning the Para-Swimming Emerging Athlete of the Year at the British Swimming Awards, and Disabled Sports Person of the Year at the Northamptonshire Sports Awards.
If you’re under 25 and are competing nationally or regionally in your sport, then you could receive funding support, like Maisie did, from the Northamptonshire Community Foundation’s Northamptonshire Champions Fund.