A disabled youngster who was born with no arms can now swim unaided – thanks to a British-designed flotation device.
Little Ismail Zulfic, six, was born with a congenital defect but was determined to take to the water.
His parents drove 50 miles to swimming lessons three times a week where instructors wrapped a “noodle” swimming aid around him when in the water.
Swimming coach-turned inventor Chris Shore, 28, saw an inspirational video of Ismail paddling the length of an Olympic-sized pool but wanted to help him further.
He tracked down Ismail’s family in Sarajevo, Bosnia, and sent them one of his Aquaplanes – a revolutionary aeroplane-shaped swimming aid which straps onto the back.
Chris, of Weaverham, Cheshire, invented it after becoming frustrated with the limitations of armbands and other buoyancy aids while teaching youngsters.
He said: “Ismail didn’t have access to any sufficient swimming equipment so we wanted to help.
“We sent an Aquaplane over to Ismail completely free after seeing a video of him learning to swim with a noodle, which we were certain that Aquaplane would vastly improve his swimming ability.
“I’m overwhelmed seeing Ismail’s face light up when he is wearing the Aquaplane.
“Ismail’s happiness in the pool with the Aquaplane is an added bonus due to his disability, making it even more rewarding for myself as a swim teacher come inventor.
“Its design helps him to achieve an optimum swimming position which is giving him lots of confidence.”
Ismail’s dad Ismet Zulfic said his son, who was born with a congenital defect, was thrilled and is now swimming faster and better than ever.
“I can’t even explain to you Ismail’s reaction when he saw his Aquaplane,” said Ismet.
“It has made him faster than before, which makes him so happy.”
Despite his disability, Ismail has learned to use his feet to write and for other everyday activities.
AquaPlane is a three-in-one swimming aid covering all the main stages of swimming development.
The device has won the backing of Olympic and Commonwealth Games swimmers and is used across the UK.
Chris, a Commonwealth Games gold medallist and Olympian, uses the Aquaplane at his own swim school.
He said: “Our swimmers love the freedom the AquaPlane gives them in the water.
“It works wonders for their technique.”