"Swimming changed my son's life"

Despite his asthma, Patrick, 11, became a champion swimmer. Mum Jeannette couldn’t be prouder

"As a toddler, my son Patrick had to be taken to hospital practically every weekend, with breathing problems and constant chest infections. It was such a scary and worrying time.

“Asthma runs in my husband’s family so we thought that was the reason, but the consultant wouldn’t confirm the diagnosis until Patrick was five.

“When Patrick was six he missed months of school. He was really behind with his reading and writing so we had to get a tutor. As a shy child, Patrick found this hard, and he felt isolated from his friends.

“We were referred to the local asthma clinic, and Patrick was tested every two months for lung capacity and oxygen levels."

Swimming increased Patrick’s health and happiness

“Patrick had always enjoyed swimming, and I took him to lessons from a young age. One day, when he was about eight, he was spotted by someone from the local swimming club and was invited to join the club.  So Patrick started training with them once a week and soon afterwards was in the Northumberland and Durham County Championships.

“Now he trains five days a week and enjoys it so much, he can’t get enough of swimming. He says that when he’s in the pool he feels no weight on his lungs – it’s like he doesn’t have asthma.

“In fact swimming has helped to strengthen Patrick’s lungs so much that although Patrick still takes his preventer inhaler morning and night, he rarely needs his blue reliever."  

The future looks bright

“This is the best year we’ve ever had with Patrick’s asthma. He’s doing brilliantly at school and has hardly had any days off sick. He’s made some good friends and he has lots more confidence. I put that down to his swimming and being part of a team.  

“Patrick swims in galas most weekends, and he’s one of the fastest swimmers in his age group at the club. His dream is to pursue a professional career in swimming and get to the Olympics. He was recently chosen to attend a talk with the Team GB swimming coach.

Patrick Speight

“After seeing him unwell with his asthma for so long, I’m so proud when I watch him take part in his swimming events – I just cry all the time, I can’t believe it!

“I used to be terrified at the thought of Patrick doing PE at school but he’s proof that exercising is so important for asthma – I can’t recommend it enough.”

Patrick, 11, tells us why he loves swimming:

“I like exercise because it makes my asthma feel better. When I swim it feels like I don’t have asthma anymore: the more I swim, the better it feels. I enjoy swimming because I win races and I am part of a team. Other children should exercise more, especially if they have asthma because it really helps your chest.”