Paralympian hero makes a splash at Trust’s Children’s Disability Forum in Lisburn ahead of Paris games

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Just 24 hours after being selected for the Ireland Paralympian swimming squad, Tokyo representative, and Commonwealth and European medallist Barry McClements visited with staff from the South Eastern Trust’s Children’s Disability Forum in Lisburn to share his experience of overcoming his disability as he prepares to take his place in the team.

The 22-year-old took home his first Commonwealth bronze medal in the men’s S9 100 metre backstroke in 2022 securing Northern Ireland’s first ever medal in the pool. He followed this up with a further bronze medal in the 100 butterfly at the recent European games in 2023.

Barry described how he had his right leg amputated above the knee due to a rare birth defect when he was just 10 months old and faced many challenges growing up.

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Learning to swim at Ards Swimming Club, “a month before” his 10th birthday proved to be his calling card.

South Eastern Trust Head of Service, Children’s Disability Services Lorraine Noade, Barry McClements and Assistant Director for Cared for Children Support Services Maurice Largey. Pic credit: SEHSCTSouth Eastern Trust Head of Service, Children’s Disability Services Lorraine Noade, Barry McClements and Assistant Director for Cared for Children Support Services Maurice Largey. Pic credit: SEHSCT
South Eastern Trust Head of Service, Children’s Disability Services Lorraine Noade, Barry McClements and Assistant Director for Cared for Children Support Services Maurice Largey. Pic credit: SEHSCT

“I tried many different sports growing up from cricket, boxing, football and basketball,” said Barry.

“I remember being 13 and wanting to stop swimming, to spend time with friends as you kind’ve want to do at that age but my Dad kept me in the sport, to give it one more season.

“After that I qualified for the European Championships and only missed qualifying for Rio Olympics by one second. I was 14 at the time and that showed me I could get that close at that age.”

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Qualifying for the Tokyo Olympics in 2020 was a “dream come true” for the local man who is currently in the middle of a packed training schedule and pool timetable.

Barry McClements with South Eastern Trust Chairman Jonathon Patton. Pic credit: SEHSCTBarry McClements with South Eastern Trust Chairman Jonathon Patton. Pic credit: SEHSCT
Barry McClements with South Eastern Trust Chairman Jonathon Patton. Pic credit: SEHSCT
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South Eastern Trust Chairman Jonathon Patton said: “Everyone in the Trust and across Northern Ireland will be supporting Barry as he prepares to take his place Paris.”

Head of Service, Children’s Disability Services Lorraine Noade added: “All the staff have participated in the forum this morning to show the work that they do day in and day out.

"As part of the motivation for staff and to show appreciation for what they do, we were delighted to welcome a special young man, Barry McClements, who spoke about his own motivational journey around disability to become one of the top Paralympian’s in Northern Ireland and who will be representing us in Paris this August.”