A HADDINGTON toddler who was diagnosed with a build-up of fluid on the brain is finding a splash in the pool at a Musselburgh fitness club is aiding her physical development.

Two-year-old Helena Stewart regularly takes to the water at The Quay after being enrolled on her first Turtle Tots baby swimming class at just six weeks old.

Her mum Toni McGovaney-Stewart, who is originally from Dunbar, decided to take the plunge after much research when she was told her daughter had hydrocephalus, a build-up of fluid on the brain.

She said: “Due to hydrocephalus, Helena has had some minimal brain damage, causing a delay in her physical ability. At 16 months, she could not stand, walk or talk.

“Last year, as the hydrocephalus advanced, she also required emergency surgery. As scary as this was, it was a life-changing event for our family, as a short time after surgery Helena managed to stand.”

Recognising the need to maintain a normal routine and introduce activities to aid Helena’s physical development, Toni researched her options.

Having always been nervous around water and not a strong swimmer herself, she was keen to introduce Helena to swimming as young as possible.

Toni said: “I always wanted to make sure my children were confident in the water and able to get themselves out of difficulties if they ever arose.

“I wanted somewhere Helena could learn lifesaving skills in a fun, welcoming environment. Thankfully, she loved Turtle Tots from day one.”

Turtle Tots is a specialist progressive baby and toddler swim programme.

Karina Reinhardt, licensee of Turtle Tots Edinburgh & East Lothian, said: “A weekly swim improves a baby’s cardiovascular system and builds strength. It can aid early walking, coordination and fine motor skills.

“Babies get to interact socially in a safe and secure environment plus develop language skills, as well as becoming confident and safe in the water.”

Toni added: “Not only am I now more confident in the water but the changes we’ve seen in Helena have been amazing.

“With a muscle weakness in her left side, Helena wears a splint, but the swimming has strengthened these muscles and helped to advance her walking.

“She is encouraged by her teacher Juliana, and her sense of achievement in the classes is so important.

“When you have a child, who is frequently in and out of hospital you lose touch with people. But the children in Helena’s Turtle Tots group have been together since they were born.”

Karina said: “Swimming is such an incredible activity to do with children and seeing just how much Helena has benefitted is so rewarding.

“In the water, Helena is weightless, so can be more mobile, floating and paddling easily alongside the other children. It is a joy to see her splashing about without a care in the world.”

To find out more about Turtle Tots or to locate the nearest class, visit turtletots.com