THE families of two deaf toddlers are gearing up for a sponsored swim.

Endurance swimming veteran Mike Reed will also be taking part in the event, which has been organised to raise money for the Flintshire Deaf Children’s Society (FDCS).

Little Dylan Valentine, from Shotton, and his friend, Isabel Gardner, from Flint, have both been diagnosed deaf and their parents set up the FDCS earlier this year as a way for families with deaf children in Flintshire to meet.

The 1,280-length sponsored swim, covering 20-miles, was due to be held at Total Fitness in Wrexham but has had to be rearranged following the gym’s sudden closure last week.

“It’s been a bit stressful but we’ve managed to swap the ‘swimathon’ to Total Fitness in Chester,” said Dylan’s dad Brian.

“We’ve got about 30 people signed up so far, including seven professional swimmers.

“The money will go towards events over the next year, such as organising trips for our toddler group and also for the older kids.”

Brian added: “We’re all planning on swimming and Dylan will be going in the pool for the first time. He loves the bath so we’re hoping he’ll like the pool.”

Two-year-old Dylan was diagnosed as being 90 per cent deaf after he was born 11 weeks prematurely.

Isabel, also two, became deaf after suffering from a viral infection in August 2010.

She battled through the illness but in addition to her deafness, has also lost her power of speech and suffers development difficulties.

Brian’s colleague, Steve Knowles, a keen swimmer who works at Lindop in Wrexham, came up with the idea for the sponsored swim and asked Mike to join in.

Mike, 71, from Ipswich, has swum the channel more than 30 times and has also won competitions swimming across Windermere and Loch Ness. He still regularly completes long-distance swims.

As well as fundraising FDCS also plan to use the swim, taking place on Saturday, October 8, to increase awareness of the group.

“We want to raise as much as we can and are currently on about £1,100,” said Brian.

The Wrexham Singing Hands group, whose members perform songs in sign language and dance along, will also be in attendance

Despite only being launched five months ago FDCS already has 10 families signed up.

 Meanwhile Brian and Dylan’s mum Nicky, who are expecting their second child, are working hard to expand the group further.

Brian added: “We’ve got another couple of families planning on joining.

“It’s good for families with deaf children to know there’s a support network and information available.”

The deadline for entries for the swimathon is today.

l To make a donation to FDCS or sign up for the sponsored swim, contact Brian on 07717737311 or email