Published 18 October 2017

A duty manager has overcome one of the biggest challenges of his career after qualifying as a pool lifeguard with the Royal Life Saving Society UK. That’s quite an achievement for a partial amputee.

Michael Williams, who works at the GLL operated Park Sport Centre in Wheatley, Oxford, had his leg partially amputated when he was 20 months old following a birth defect in his left foot. The 26 year old has worked for GLL for three years and is keen to progress his career, but has been held back by his poor swimming skills.

I needed to qualify as a lifeguard in order to progress my career. As a duty manager at a dry side leisure centre, I’ve found it so difficult to move up the ladder without holding an NPLQ (National Pool Lifeguard Qualification) – it’s been a massive barrier for me for nearly three years,” he says.

For the last two years, Williams has battled his physical impairment to being a pool lifeguard, which involved learning to swim all over again.

 “The whole process was very challenging because I could not swim very well at all. Learning to swim with just the one leg is tough; but learning to become a strong swimmer was even more difficult. I had plenty of injuries and became quite stressed at times, but with a condition like mine all you can do is forget about it and not let it affect you,” he says.

 Williams was devastated when he failed the test the first time around, but with support from his colleagues, he was determined to pass at the re-assessment, and he did. The inspiring achievement means that Williams can now take the next step up the career ladder.

My aim now is to find a management position that enables me to work both dry and wet side of the leisure provision. Having this qualification puts me one step closer to achieving that.

Alex Blackwell, IQL UK’s Head of Vocational Qualifications, said: “We’d like to congratulate Michael on what is a hugely inspiring achievement. We actively encourage all individuals to take part in our courses where it is safe to do so. We believe it’s important, to take a proactive approach to creating opportunities to apply for reasonable adjustments, so there are no unnecessary barriers that might prevent someone taking part in a course.

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