PARALYMPIC hero Ellie Simmonds launched a new £4million water ride, which is opening to the public today, in the pool where she first learnt to swim.

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Fresh from her triumph at the London Games, in which she took home two gold medals, one silver and one bronze, the 18-year-old took to the water at Elveden Center Parcs with youngsters from the Thetford Dolphins, a nearby swimming club.

Simmonds learnt to swim at Center Parcs when she was just a toddler and now visits one of the four sites at least once a year.

“To come back is really special,” she said. “You get to have so much fun at places like this with the rapids and have a really good time in the water.

“I went in with the kids and they were all really excited because they didn’t know I was coming – I think it’s important to have a life skill and be safe in the water and with this they can learn that.”

Simmonds, who has Achondroplasia dwarfism, became the youngest Briton to win an Olympic or Paralympic medal at the age of 13 years and nine months. She went on to become the youngest winner of the BBC Young Sports Personality of the year in 2008 and the youngest recipient of the MBE at just 14. She has since won 10 world titles.

She added: “The Games were amazing and it’s been really hectic since – the opportunities I’ve had have been incredible. A lot of children recognise me and it’s great to get them involved in sport in general.”

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