Little heroes battle odds to make a big splash in awards ceremony

by Sylvia Pownall

Two Fingal toddlers are among 16 inspirational Water Babies from across the country who were honoured with Little Hero awards in Blanchardstown last week.

One-year-old Eloise Lane from Castleknock and Chloe McCabe from Malahide were singled out for their bravery in overcoming physical challenges to learn to swim.

Water Babies selected them for the wonderful stories outlining how being in water has helped them overcome health issues and supports their development.

Eloise was born with a very special heart… only half of her heart is functioning. At 14 months old she has already battled her way through five key hole surgeries as well as open-heart surgery.

Mum Michaela Duffy said: “Following in her big brother Tiernan’s splashes we started swimming as soon as we could, and Eloise absolutely loves it.

“She has to wear her bubba wetsuit to keep her extra warm in the pool but her cardiac consultant in Crumlin thought it was great that she had already started swimming and we hope it will be the start of a lifelong love of water for her.”

Chloe McCabe was born with a dislocated hip and her other hip was dysplastic, which meant that before she even left the hospital she was put into a cast.

Chloe’s hip brace kept her knees at right angles to her hips so she was always in a ‘frog’ position which meant that cuddling, hugging and dressing were not an option.

At five months, mum Lynsey McCabe asked the nurses about starting Water Babies and they agreed it would benefit Chloe’s hips so they began classes in Roganstown.

Nine months later Chloe developed a massive lump around her airways and had to have emergency surgery to remove it in order for her to breathe.

She missed weeks of classes while recovering and during this time developed another mass on her collar bone – a ‘branchial cyst’ which also had to be removed.

Unfortunately, the operation didn’t remove the full cyst and a few weeks into recovery she ended up in A&E with a lump the size of a golf ball which restricted her breathing again.

Despite all this, Chloe persevered and according to her mum is now a happy and confident little swimmer.

Water Babies is Ireland’s leading baby and toddler swimming school and celebrates its tenth anniversary this month.

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