Norwich baby learns to swim at 16 days old

Kate ScotterA baby boy who was born just 16 days ago took to the water yesterday, becoming possibly the county's youngest swimmer.Kate Scotter

A baby boy who was born just 16 days ago took to the water yesterday, becoming possibly the county's youngest swimmer.

Jake McDonald, who was born at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital just over a fortnight ago, took part in his first Water Babies class yesterday.

His first swim saw the youngster, from Thorpe Marriott, became the youngest member of Water Babies in Norfolk on record.

Proud dad Ashley McDonald said he was nervous for his first child beforehand but knew he was in safe hands as it was his sister, Carol Lumbard, taking the class.

The 29-year-old HGV driver, whose partner Marie Wisken, 35, is also a lorry driver, said: 'He is very laid back. He just lies there in the bath taking no notice, so hopefully he'll be the same in the pool.

'I think it's better for him to start swimming as soon as possible, that way he will have a better chance of being a strong swimmer when he is older. We were keen for him to do it and my sister knows what she's doing, he's in good hands.'

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Jake, who was born on May 4, took his first lesson at the Hall School in St Faith's Road, Norwich. He was joined in the water by his grandmother, Sandra Lumbard. Before Jake, the youngest Water Babies baby in Norfolk was three weeks old.

Kim Bennett, who runs Water Babies classes in Norfolk, said: 'We are thrilled this family are bringing Jake when he is so, so young. There are massive, massive benefits. He's been swimming around in his mummy's tummy for 10 months so being in water at this stage is so much more natural and he will be able to move around freely, giving him a full and proper work-out.

'The earlier babies start, the better it is. They are in a whole different league. They have a greater affinity with water. Children are not born with a fear of water, but at about nine months it can kick in, so if you start them swimming when they are young then you don't have to re-introduce them to water and they don't develop that fear.'

Water Babies runs classes throughout the country, teaching more than 20,000 children nationwide each week. In the Norwich area classes are held at the Hall School, Thorpe House School, Recreation Road, Harford Manor School and Sprowston High School.

Classes cater for babies to children up to school age. As well as swimming, babies are taught about water safety.

To find out more about Water Babies and classes available, go to

Have you got a story for the Evening News? Call reporter Kate Scotter on 01603 772326 or email