Fleetwood swimmer inspired by hero to chase Paralympic dream

Ryan Potter meets Adam Peaty
Ryan Potter meets Adam Peaty

Para-swimmer Ryan Potter has recently been accepted onto an elite Great Britain Spotlight Programme and could compete at the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic games.

13-year-old Ryan, from Grange Road, has autism and a rare skin ailment which affects only one in 100,000 children.

Ryan, who attends Cardinal Allen Catholic High School and also has learning difficulties, has been classified into category S14.

Ryan is a member of the Blackpool Aquatics Swim Squad, where he trains several times per week, and he competed in several events at the club’s annual championships this month.

Proud mum Nicola explains: “Ryan was really struggling at school and it was actually a coach who suggested he should take up swimming.

“It began as a hobby that Ryan enjoyed but we soon realised he was actually very good at it.

“At the moment he doesn’t have one specialist stroke. He’s got a lot of growing to do, so his strokes will change but he probably prefers 100m backstroke and 50m freestyle.”

Ryan has visited Manchester Aquatics swimming pool for assessment by specialist coaches, who are enthusiastic about his talent and Paralympic hopes.

Ryan will take part in his first international event, the British Para-Swimming International Meet, in Sheffield in April.

This is the highlight of the domestic para-swimming calendar.

It marks the beginning of a new Paralympic cycle for swimming and the start of an eight-year journey that could see Ryan competing at Tokyo in 2020, and Paris in 2024.

“It’s obviously going to be a long process over the next eight years,” says Nicola. “But Ryan works so hard and has a great attitude, not just to his swimming but to life in general.

“He just gets on with everything and powers through, which makes me and his dad ever so proud.”

Ryan even met his sporting hero - Great Britain gold medal-winning swimmer Adam Peaty.

“Ryan was so excited when he met Adam,” Nicola added. “Adam was great with him. He even got in the pool and had a race with Ryan!”