Gainsborough Dolphins’ first ever disabled swimmer preparing for British Para-Swimming International Meet

Becky Franks
Becky Franks

Gainsborough Dolphins’ first ever disabled swimmer is working ‘tremendously hard’ in preparation for the British Para-Swimming International Meet.

Becky Franks will travel to Glasgow in March for the event, which doubles as trials for the 2015 IPC Swimming World Championships.

The 17-year-old was born with part of her right arm missing, but some tough love and a determination to succeed have helped her excel in the pool.

Lincoln youngster Franks took up the sport at the age of four and was soon representing City of Lincoln Pentaqua Swimming Club.

Her first taste of national competition came at the tender age of 10, and last July she made the decision to move to Gainsborough Dolphins.

For coach Colin Pitchford it was a new challenge, but he insists his student has made life easy for him.

“She settled in brilliantly after coming to us out of the blue,” he said.

“It’s the first time I’ve taken a disabled swimmer, and she’s the first to join the Dolphins squad.”

“She doesn’t get treated any differently and she’s doing very, very well.”

“Becky works tremendously hard and gives her best at all times.”

Her best efforts were rewarded last November, when she swam in the National Short Course Championships in Manchester.

Franks took five individual gold medals, two silvers and a team gold – when she formed part of an East Midlands relay team alongside three other girls, including Paralympians Charlotte Henshaw and Ellie Simmonds.

Proud mum Helen says Becky has a drive to succeed.

“She’s very serious about her swimming, she’s a very determined person and that helps her.”

“She just takes her disability as it comes, and people thought I was harsh but I always told her to try things, then come to me for help if she couldn’t do it – but I think that helped build her up.”

Between four to six training sessions in the pool each week, and a couple of trips to the gym have also aided the apprentice swimming teacher’s rise up the national rankings.

And all that hard work is with the next big event in mind, the British Para-Swimming International Meet from 26th to 29th March.

Helen added: “She’ll compete in seven strokes during the week and she’s hoping to do her best and see what she can do.”

Sporting prowess obviously runs in the family, with brother David Franks playing football for Gainsborough Trinity Under 21s.

The cost of all the round trips from Lincoln to Gainsborough, the bill for food and fuel for two sporty youngsters and all the tournament fees obviously add up.

But Helen says swimming is a career, not just a hobby, for Becky.

“There’s not a lot of sponsorship, so I fund most of it, the hotels, food, travel, fees, but it is worth it.”

“She wants a career in swimming, she wants to go into teaching and promote disability swimming – there are a lot of people who don’t realise they can do things like this.”