The Reading Cygnets Swimming Club was founded in 1981 by Pam Weekes and Doreen Gardiner, both mothers of Down Syndrome children, after they saw athletes with learning disabilities competing in a day of sport organised by the Special Olympic Great Britain. They were moved to persuade Reading Borough Council to allocate weekly one-hour swimming sessions at Highdown School and Reading Central Pool, where the first six Cygnets members began swimming socially with their families.

The same year, two of the swimmers - Paul Parsons and Chris Phillips - competed in their first Special Olympics Games in Knowsley, Merseyside, and both returned home with medals. The ensuing local publicity attracted more learning disability members and the Club began competing in local and national galas.

In 1982, Pam Weeks was moving away from Reading and asked Christopher's father - Ron Phillips - to take over the running of the Club. With the increasing membership, he decided that a more structured system was needed and the Cygnets went on to become a fully competitive Club. The Club became a Registered Charity in 1993 (No. 1028750) and is affiliated to the Amateur Swimming Association (ASA), now re-named Swim England, and Special Olympics Great Britain.

In 2002 Ron Phillips, MBE, founded the Down Syndrome International Swimming Organisation (DSISO), and he and Reading Cygnets hosted the first Down Syndrome international Championships at Reading Central Pool the same year.

Ron continued as Chairman until his death in 2010 when he was succeeded by his grandson, Gordon Dart.

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