My story by Ryan (with a little help from mum)

I was born on the 10th December 2003 with CMN and NCM. My birthmark covers my bum and I have hundreds of smaller moles all over my body. The moles on my brain also cause me to have learning disabilities and I also have ASD. I have difficulty with my working memory, and this gets really frustrating for me.

I’ve always been a water baby! I hated playing with toys when I was younger, as I always preferred to splash with water or tip water in the sink! When I was 8 years old my mum took me swimming and I loved it! I used to get lots of stares and people would say nasty things about my skin, but this only made me stronger and I wanted to prove to people that I could swim. I joined a swim team and began to train twice a week.

I managed to get my 25-metre badge when I was 9! I carried on trying hard and not letting my health issue get me down. I spent a lot of time in hospital, but always bounced back.

Last year I was bitten by a tick and this caused me to become really poorly. I’m a lot better now after a long course of medication but I have been left with another illness called chronic idiopathic urticarial. This illness causes my skin to itch all over and I get a red burning rash. Unfortunately, temperature change triggers this off and as I get hot during swim training, I sometimes get the rash all over which effects my training, but I won’t let it stop me.

I am now 14 and train 6 times a week. Recently I have been selected to represent England on the para swimming talent programme. I compete in the S 14 category which is for swimmers with an intellectual disability. I recently won the junior nationals 100m backstroke and gained 3 silvers in other events.

I have two major competitions coming up this year which I am training hard for. This means I have to get up at 4am in the morning to get to the pool for 5am start! I am the youngest member of my swim training group and also the only one with CMN. Sometimes it’s hard for me as people still stare at me especially when I have my swimming trunks on, but it’s boring to look normal and I like to be different.

There is a big competition coming up next year in Brisbane Australia, which I am aiming to get selected for. The competition is called the Global Games. This is just an event for elite athletes with learning disabilities. I can’t wait to swim and represent GB. My aim is to get to the Paralympics when I’m older and I’ll try my very best to get there!

“I have the power within me to overcome any and all adversity and nothing or no one can slow me down or hold me back…
I am unstoppable”

I wanted to share my story to hopefully inspire other kids with CMN/NCM. Nothing is impossible if you want to achieve!

Follow your dreams and don’t let others get in your way.