Natalie has been swimming since the age of two. She received her first award at age six and has continued to be passionate about swimming her whole life. She reached Australian level in competitive swimming before going on to become a swimming teacher and coach. Still coaching at the club she joined as a 6 year old, the Clayton Piranhas.
Natalie´s eldest child has Aspergers Syndrome. It was raised at a support group meeting for children with an Autism Spectrum disorder that there was no where these children could learn how to swim.
It is well documented and very evident at Swim 4 All that Autistic children love the water, however most do not respond well to regular group swimming classes. It is unfortunate that they therefore do not get a chance to master a skill in an environment that gives them great pleasure, but it also presents a great danger. Many autistic children have no fear and or low impulse control and will therefore enter water without the skills to prevent themselves form drowning.
So Natalie decided with the knowledge of how her son best learns and the knowledge acquired over years of teaching swimming to start the Swim 4 All program. With access to a primary school pool on Sundays Natalie began with just a handful of swimmers. 2 years later Swim 4 All has taught over 100 children with a disability. Several of the first few are now in a group squad class and are embarking on their first competition with the Piranhas swimming club.
The majority of swimmers have diagnoses of Autism, but there are also several swimmers with Downe Syndrome and a few other less known disabilities. The available space is unable to accommodate many more children with disabilities; hence the need to build a purpose built facility in order to provide more hours and pool space to help more children learn to swim. It is a right that most Australian children learn to swim.
Swim 4 All is providing a service to those who struggle to fit into the learn to swim structures at regular centres.
Keeping with the water theme her husband Dean and her tried wakeboarding. Finding it exciting but difficult to progress without a boat they tried kite boarding. After a slow beginning on a 2 line kite and 2 small children to chase on the beach, finally progress came with this sport when Cabrinha brought out their first bow kite.
After a few months getting proficient on the big 16m Crossbow kite, Natalie entered her 1st competition and surprisingly won. This motivated her to enter the Victorian Titles in 2007 and 2008 winning both years. Then she packed up the family and a borrowed caravan and headed to Tannum sands at Easter time 2009 to compete in the Nationals. After a nervous and shaky start she ended up placing 3rd in Australia. Natalie put these kite boarding skills to good use, and kite boarded across Bass Strait to raise funds to build a pool to be able to teach more children with a disability to swim.It is Natalie´s vision that the centre she is proposing to build will be the first of many to come in the future, so that all children with a disability will be able to access lessons in a Swim 4 All centre near them.
Swim 4 All is continually training more staff and revising the structure so that it can be passed on and learnt by others.
Natalie Clarke Swim 4 All Founder
Mayors and teachers at the Swim 4 All award ceremony