19/09/2014 06:42 BST | Updated 20/05/2015 06:12 BST

Water Babies Prove It's Never Too Early To Learn To Swim


Water Babies, the UK's leading baby and toddler swim school, launched a nationwide search to find Britain's most inspiring young swimmers – and you can read about the eight smashing, splashing and worthy winners below.

Although the awards celebrate incredible swimming stories, the inspiration for them came after research commissioned by Water Babies earlier this year revealed that half of parents surveyed said they didn't believe their child could save themselves if they got into trouble in the water.

Paul Thompson, co-founder of Water Babies, says: "We wanted to raise awareness for the importance of children learning to swim at as early an age as possible.

"Our research showed that the average age children start swimming lessons is four years old and 4027donnell.jpg" />

Annie O'Donnell, 11, from Glasgow

Annie was just nine years old when she announced she wanted to take part in the local sports' club Channel Swim Challenge (swimming 22 miles in the local pool -the equivalent of swimming the Channel).

Her inspiration? Little sister Millie, who was born with tracheoesophageal fistula-oesophageal atresia - a rare congenital condition which prevents sufferers from swallowing properly.

"Annie wanted to raise money for the charity Tracheo Oesophageal Fistula Support (TOFS) to help children like her wee sister," says proud mum Kirsteen. "I said this was a great idea but would be tough."

Annie swam every day after school, fitting in an average of between 40 and 50 lengths in each session, in between her hectic schedule of piano, brownies and football.

"She finished the challenge in seven and a half weeks instead of the nine week challenge time, completing 1416 lengths of a 25m pool," says Kirsteen. "She raised over £1000 for TOFS and they were, of course, delighted!"

Water Babies

Rosanna Joan Ogden, four, from Chorley, Lancashire

Rosanna, appeared to be a normal, healthy baby - but at six weeks old she was found to have a heart tumour. "She was rushed to Alder Hey children's hospital in Liverpool, where she was immediately put on a life support machine," recalls her grandmother Aly Buckle.

Rosanna had a rare tumour called Rhabdomyoma within the heart muscle which can be life threatening, and she was given a 50Slideshow-84782%