SPECIAL needs pupil Kia Elven was nearly put off sport for life when a coach once dragged her out of a pool for swimming 'incorrectly'.

But the 12-year-old is now hoping to benefit from a campaign to get a swimming pool at her school in Beaconsfield - which would get her back in the water on a regular basis.

Alfriston School already has planning permission for the pool, but is trying to raise £450,000 to help complete the project, having received £150,000 so far.

Mum Tina is urging people to support the bid, called 'Project Splash', with a November jumble sale the latest initiative to raise funds.

Kia was born with Velo Cardial Facial Syndrome, which affects her learning capabilities, and her parents felt swimming could be vital in giving her independence and to develop her movement skills.

But when she was enrolled in swimming lessons Tina recalled her daughter being “dragged out of a pool while some mad trainer screamed at me to come and remove my child if she was not willing to listen.”

She said Kia was then sidelined at another swimming club, for “failing to produce consistent enough leg movements”, despite being faster than many others in the class.

The High Wycombe youngster finally joined the Bucks Disability Swimming Club in Stoke Mandeville, but the 40-minute drive means she cannot attend lessons regularly.

Tina hopes a purpose-built pool at Alfriston would give Kia and others the chance to develop her technique and compete in swimming galas.

She said: “Kia makes us proud every day. She is a determined little lady with lots of will power. Our only wish for special needs swimmers is that they find it easier to [take part in] this fantastic sport in an appropriate environment... Maybe one day we’d have an Olympic swimmer on our hands.”

The jumble sale is at the Penn Road school on Saturday, November 12 from 12 - 2pm, organised by The Friends of Alfriston School.

Email: tina@project-splash.org.uk for details on how to donate to the project.