Before he was a Paralympic gold medallist, Cameron Leslie was a kid who found a previously unattainable sense of freedom in the water.
Leslie, who won the gold medal in the men's 150m individual medley at the 2008, 2012 and 2016 Summer Paralympics, has been at the Rotorua Aquatic Centre this week sharing his passion for the sport with a group of up-and-coming para swimmers.
Te Arawa Swimming head coach Henk Greupink said the idea for a para swimming camp during the school holidays started when a family from Auckland got in touch last year.
"They were coming here on a trip and their son is in a wheelchair so they sent an email asking if we had anything happening he could join in with. Then we had a family from Gisborne with the same thing so we had them both here for a week swimming and it was great."
Word of Te Arawa Swimming's para programme spread and soon more families, from places like Gisborne and Blenheim, came calling. So, Greupink organised this week's camp where children of all abilities were able get in the pool, have some fun and make connections.
"We have nine para swimmers here this week and it's all about our whole inclusive philosophy - this is the result. They interact, they talk to each other and they become friends.
"I don't want to interfere with the programmes they do at home so we keep it quite basic but a lot of them don't get to swim in a 50m pool like we have here so it's a whole different environment.
"You can tell they are enjoying it, they have big smiles, they love it," Greupink said.
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Leslie, who is now the Swimming NZ para swimming development co-ordinator, said it was Greupink's passion for inclusivity which drew him to Rotorua to help out.
"It's just so good to see them be able to join up and have some training together during school holidays. We probably have more than 10 per cent of the national para swimmers here today and they're with people they'll probably race at nationals.
"Henk is a passionate man and I'm all for supporting him but it's also swings and roundabouts. Any support I can offer to Henk helps me in return - he does a bloody good thing at community level, getting people through the door and giving them opportunities."
Leslie said the para-swimming environment had changed a lot since he started as a child.
"There are so many more opportunities in the table for para swimmers these days and it's part of my job to try to create more opportunity and to give them equal opportunity in some ways.
"It's about growing that whole movement. We live in a society that has a more inclusive mindset these days and when I started swimming it certainly wasn't as inclusive as it is today. Having said that, it could still be better but it's definitely an improvement - it's about getting people active and involved in sport.
"For me, when I started, it was the freedom in the water and to some extent, my disability didn't inhibit me as much when I was swimming. I acknowledge I have a disability but I don't like to have special treatment because of it and I think that's what attracted me to the sport."