Nathan McKechnie is a 14 year old swimmer with City of Glasgow Seals Swimming Club.
Nathan has autism, ADHD, dorsal stream dysfunction and is partially sighted. He attends a school in Hamilton which supports his complex needs.
When Nathan was about 8 years old he started going to the pool with Reach Lanarkshire Autism Group where his mum volunteers. Although he was scared of the unknown, the coaches were very encouraging and soon he was loving his sessions in the pool.
As Nathan was progressing so well, Mandy, his mum, enrolled him into a mainstream swimming club, but because he was not allowed to enter into any of their competitions, Nathan became quite despondent as he was desperate to show off his swimming talent.
In 2016, Mandy heard about the City of Glasgow Seals Swimming Club, and with Nathan, went along to see what it was all about.
In his first competition with the Seals he did not want to compete when he saw he was up against the bigger boys, but with lots of encouragement from Robin, his coach, he raced and did well.
Nathan is very dedicated and has gone up the classification of ranks quickly and now swims in the open level which is the top level where he is swimming against people a lot older than himself.
He has made great friends for life through the club as he feels they do not judge him, and in Nathan’s words ‘swimming has made me feel I can be myself. I don’t have to pretend to be like everyone else and I love it’.
Mandy loves to watch him swim and she can see how happy it makes him feel and the confidence it gives him as he struggles with daily life skills, especially reading and writing. ‘When he swims he is free of his stresses and negative vibes and believes in himself. The first time he won a gold medal my heart was so warm I felt it could burst with pride.’
Having seen what a huge impact swimming has had on Nathan’s life and the confidence he now has thanks to the encouragement and support he has been given by the coaches at the club, Mandy has now become a swimming coach herself.