Last year Siobhan Terry became Rotorua's first para swimmer to compete at the New Zealand Open Swimming Championships.

Terry, who returned to Rotorua four years ago after living in Australia for 11 years, was born with a left clubfoot and wears a splint when out of the pool to improve flexibility in her ankle. She has never let her disability stop her getting in the pool and doing what she loves.

Next month Paralympics New Zealand is holding two para swimming camps at the Rotorua Aquatic Centre with the aim of showing others like Siobhan that they can get involved in swimming.

The North Island Regional Camp, from 9am–4.30pm on Saturday, May 5, and 9am-1pm on Sunday, May 6, is targeted at those who are regularly training and competing within the Swimming New Zealand club system.

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The North Island Introduction to Para Swimming Session, from 12pm–4.30pm on Sunday, May 6, is for those who have a more informal relationship with swimming or are looking to find a club.

Te Arawa Swimming head coach Henk Greupink said he had always had an interest in para swimming and was eager to let people know anyone could take up swimming.

"Three years ago Gary Francis was the para swimming national coach and he held a camp here in Rotorua for para swimming. So while he was here I said I want to tag along to see how he approached these kids with disabilities, because I had no idea.

Siobhan Terry was the first Rotorua para swimmer to compete at the New Zealand Open Swimming Championships. Photo / Stephen Parker
Siobhan Terry was the first Rotorua para swimmer to compete at the New Zealand Open Swimming Championships. Photo / Stephen Parker

"In that year, Siobhan knocked on the door and said 'I want to start swimming, I have this disability', so we started working together.

"This year, Paralympics NZ has approached me and Daniel Bell, an ex-Olympic swimmer based in Hawke's Bay who also works with para athletes, and asked us to organise these camps," Greupink said.

He said interest in para swimming was building momentum, especially with Sophie Pascoe doing so well on the world stage.

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"The way we run our programme here, we are all about inclusiveness. We don't care how good, how bad you are, how old you are - we make sure we have a squad for you and if we don't have one we create one.

"Everybody loves water, from the spa pool to the open water, and para swimmers are no different. My goal is, from a really young age, introduce them to swimming and have them as mainstream as possible. We don't want to put anyone in a box."

Terry said Greupink had helped her become a competitive swimmer. She is training for the New Zealand Swimming Championships in July.

"It was really cool that he gave me a go, I expected to be pushed and I am pushed. Henk is a really cool coach, I think I've only seen him grumpy twice. He treats me like any other swimmer," she said.

For more information about the camps contact para sport community development manager Kieran Wall on 021 543 790 or at kwall@paralympics.org.nz