01 Jul 2022

Little hero Heidi takes to pool like a duck to water

Little hero Heidi takes to pool like a duck to water

Sam Matthews @SamAMatthewsKP

A little girl from Kilkenny has been announced as the winner of a Water Babies 'Little Hero Award', following a nationwide search to find Ireland’s most inspiring young swimmers.

Water Babies is a baby and toddler swim school, and its 'Little Heroes' initiative honours those youngsters who have battled illness and adversity, including premature birth and Down Syndrome, or have shown a lot of courage in their lives.

Heidi Guilfoyle’s parents couldn’t wait to start Water Babies classes with her — just as they had with their first child Dylan, when he was nine weeks old. However, his little sister Heidi had to be placed in a Pavlik harness when she was just six weeks old to treat hip dysplasia. She was in the harness 24 hours a day for four months, unable to move her legs.

The harness was removed in hospital every two weeks for a bath and each time Heidi would screech with happiness when she was put in the water. As soon as she was allowed out of her harness, her parents booked her Water Babies lessons and they haven't looked back.


Heidi now loves being in the water and spends most of the class squeaking with delight and splashing her hands into the water.

“Heidi is so happy and content and comfortable in the water,” says her proud dad Noric.

“The lessons have also been so helpful to help strengthen her legs and muscles that had been unable to move at all for four months. Heidi has got so strong since she started Water Babies and we can see her legs getting stronger every week.”

Carol McNally from Water Babies said the whole team love hearing the remarkable stories from all the little swimmers out there, and the moving tales they have to tell. The idea of the 'Little Heroes' awards is to reward accomplishments when it comes to water, and to raise awareness of the importance of children learning to swim at as early an age as possible.

Each Water Babies lesson offers a range of activities . To find your nearest class, visit

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