Paralympic swimming star’s advice to young North Walsham sports people: don’t give up

Paralympian Fran Williamson (front right) with the North Walsham High School students

Paralympian Fran Williamson (front right) with the North Walsham High School students - Credit: Archant

Paralympian and world champion swimmer Fran Williamson has told North Walsham High School's most promising sporting students to share her can-do philosophy: 'don't say I can't, say I can't yet.'

The international athlete, who won 13 world championship and six Paralympic medals during a 10-year sporting career, visited the school to help motivate and inspire its top-performing PE students.

She was born with Athetoid Cerebral Palsy, a condition which includes shaky/wobbly movements and poor fine-motor skills, and did not learn to swim until she was 12.

But within three years she won two medals at the European Championships.

She told students: 'I am really competitive. Seeing others get medals made me feel like I could get one as well.'

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The reason she started swimming was because she saw someone break the world record, and was determined to break it too.

She added: 'It's always a struggle to get over barriers; but you always find a way to get through.

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'No-one really stopped me from swimming; I just got told I couldn't be successful. What helped me through the pain was the idea that I might succeed – and the thought of getting a medal.'

Fran told the students her story, and shared how they could use the same attitude and determination to succeed in their own lives.

'If I could give one piece of advice to a young person aspiring to have a career in sport, it would be to keep trying and don't give up,' she said.

After retiring from competing in 2011, Fran now spends much of her time in schools sharing her experiences, enthusing, inspiring and motivating students.

Head of PE Paul Bradshaw said they were grateful for Fran's inspirational visit, adding: 'She has overcome more barriers than most to achieve success, and she certainly motivated our students to keep working towards achieving their dreams.'

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