ISLE OF MAN – Microgaming PlayItForward is extending its support locally with the establishment of the Microgaming Isle of Man Para Swimming Team.
Providing the opportunity for everyone to compete in the sport of swimming, Microgaming has become title sponsor of the Isle of Man Para Swimming Team. The company’s support will assist the team with pool costs, coaching and travel on and off island to compete.
The team currently consists of three inspirational members. Tom Callister, 15, is an S9 swimmer, Letisha Ellis, 11, is an S15 swimmer, and Ben Grainger, 12, is an S10 swimmer. All three athletes have qualified for the National Para Swimming Championships in December in Manchester (taking place at the 2006 Commonwealth pool).
Ben, the most experienced member, has been swimming for a number of years, and won five medals at last year’s British Para Swimming Championships, in the under-14 age category, including two golds. The then 11-year old won both the 50m and 100m freestyle events. Since, Ben has continued to dominate the Para Swimming scene, and in 2014 won Disability Sportsperson of the Year at the Isle of Man Sports Awards.
Inspired by Ben’s story, Letisha was very keen to take up the sport. After only 18 months in the water, Letisha is set to gain a national ranking after the Championships in December. She will follow in team mate Tom’s footsteps, who already ranks 2nd and 3rd in his age group in Britain for his favoured Breaststroke events, as well as being Top 10 in the men’s category.
Looking ahead, the long-term goal for the newly established team is to compete in the Paralympics, Tokyo 2020.
Claire Coleman, Head of Microgaming PlayItForward, says: “Getting to know Lee and hearing the Para Team members stories over the past few months has been inspiring. It is our pleasure to support this flourishing team; we hope that this announcement will encourage more youngsters living with disabilities to get involved in this enjoyable sport. We wish Ben, Tom and Letisha the best of luck for the British Para Swimming Championships next month – we are all routing for you!”
Lee Holland, Head Coach for Isle of Man Swimming, adds: “We are thrilled to have on board such an influential supporter in Microgaming. The athletes are so excited that their progress and performances have attracted such a credible and enthusiastic sponsor. Everyone involved in swimming on the island are so proud of these inspirational young people and their dedication to their sport. With Microgaming on our side, we are hoping to develop a framework and structure similar to the performance pathway we have built for able bodied swimming team, which has had amazing success over the years. Furthermore, we hope that other sports will follow suit in the quest to assist disabled people to achieve the high levels of performance that we as a nation have come to expect from able bodied sports.”
To drive awareness of the new Isle of Man Para Swimming Team, there will be a series of taster sessions held at the NSC over the coming months on Saturdays between 5 and 6pm. Sessions are open for all physically disabled people who can swim a minimum of 15m unaided, or have the potential to do so. For anyone interested and for more information, please contact Lee Holland on firstname.lastname@example.org.