A little girl from Ipswich who struggled to learn to swim is now coming on leaps and bounds after her parents gave her the ultimate incentive.

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Nine-year-old Millie Gray began taking lessons at Fore Street Pool in Ipswich at the tender age of four. At first she suffered from nervousness in the water and struggled to be comfortable.

However Millie overcame her fears when her parents told her that if she learnt to swim properly they would take her swimming with dolphins.

Now she has progressed to the honours stage which focuses on long distance, speed and stamina swimming – and that’s despite being diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.

Millie’s mother Liz still remembers how nervous she became when she began swimming.

“A short while after she began lessons she started to display signs of not wanting to go,” said Liz. “On one occasion, she ran out of the training pool and into the wave pool, screaming at me.”

However with the help of swimming tutors Natalie Gunn and Louise Eaton at Fore Street Pool, Millie was back in the water again.

“The first session Millie shook continually but wanted to carry on,” explained Liz.

Millie was determined to learn to swim by the age of six, when her parents told her they would take her swimming with dolphins in Florida.

She achieved this goal three years ago, and when she returned to the UK she was soon back in training.

However the obstacles didn’t end there. Shortly after returning from Florida Millie was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.

This presented further challenges, however Millie has battled on and is now at the honours stage of her swimming development.

One person who has watched Millie develop over the years is swimming instructor Natalie Gunn.

She said Millie was “really nervous” when she began swimming, but described her as “enthusiastic and really lively and caring”.

She also said she noticed Millie working harder when she was promised a swim with dolphins.

“Natalie and Louise have been her main teachers since her diagnosis and with their care, understanding and encouragement we have arrived at the first honours session at Fore Street,” said Millie’s proud mum. “I want to pass on my thanks to all of the Fore Street swimming team.”

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