LETTERKENNY teenager Anna Hennessy made a big splash in the pool at the Northern Ireland Disability Games in Newry last weekend.
Anna (17), who is a Transition Year student at Loreto Letterkenny, won both the 25 metre freestyle and butterfly swimming events, to add to the silver she secured in the 50m freestyle.
Despite being diagnosed with Down Syndrome shortly after birth, Anna has not allowed her condition to define her. She plays basketball with the local Letterkenny Blaze team while she is also enjoys taking part in yoga classes with the Donegal Down Syndrome Association.
Prior to last weekend’s success in Newry, Anna won two gold and one silver medal at the Irish Down Syndrome National Swimming Championships in Dublin back in February.
“I was nervous, but I had been practising for a while,” she said. “I am proud of my achievements.”
Anna also thanked her coach Patricia Greenan, for all her hard work at the Clanree Hotel leisure centre over the years.
“I enjoy sport and I like meeting people,” she said.
Anna is now training hard for the next European competition, which is set to be held later this year over in Paris.
Because of her recent successes she has been chosen to join the Irish Development squad which involves travelling to Dublin once a month for training.
“She’s very fast and strong but needs to build on her stamina a little bit,” Anna’s mother Mairead said.
A retired school-teacher, Mairead was a talented athlete with Letterkenny Athletic Club in her youth and, in more recent times, was an integral part of the coaching set-up at LAC.
“She beat five boys in one of her races so she didn’t do too bad I suppose,” her mother smiled.
Anna’s parents, Kevin and Mairead, along with her older sisters Eavan and Ríona, watched on with pride over the weekend as Anna brought her latest medals to their Rockhill home.
For World Down’s Syndrome Day back in March, Anna and third year student Meg Carr (16) made a video project at their school to help people better understand Down’s Syndrome.
The five minute long video follows the daily lives of the two young adults with Down’s syndrome, who excel in sports and school.
In the video, the girls explain clearly the biological make-up and characteristics of people with Down Syndrome through photos, voice-overs and videos, and try to dispel any misconceptions about the disorder.
The aim is to encourage people to befriend someone with Down Syndrome, saying that it’s easy to be friends with someone by treating them like anyone else.
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