Olympic medallists to recognise achievement of family of eight with more than 80 swimming badges...

A HAMPSHIRE family has proved they are all in the swim by scooping a major award at a national ceremony.

All six children of the Huggett family from Totton have been having regular lessons at the Shirley swimming pool and their success in achieving more than 80 swimming badges will be recognised in a glittering night for the nations best achievers - Swimtastic 2004.

Olympic medallists from Athens will be on hand at the gala ceremony to present awards to people from all over the country who have made outstanding achievements or contributions to swimming.

Managing director David Perry, who has taught all the children at some point, said: "It is a magnificent achievement by any standards to put six children through swimming tuition at the same time, but it is the children's ability that is special. Often one child in a family will shine in the water, but they are all water babies."

Jane Monger, ASA teacher for the pre-school-age children at Shirley, has helped the Huggett toddlers make a start.

She said: "I think the parents should get an award for getting the kids here week-in, week-out, and sewing all those badges on!"

The children, Michael, 9, Thomas, 8, Emily, 5, Andrew, 7,Charlotte, 3, and Megan, 1, have all the badges up to one mile and the prestigious Olympic Award between them, all carefully sewn on to their swimming towels.

The shuttle run from Totton to the Shirley baths takes place up to eight times a week, as the older boys swim twice a week.

Proud parents Lisa and Brian Huggett will accompany the children for their special night.

Mum Lisa, 37, said: "I think it is so important that the children learn when they are young and it is lovely to see them swim the strokes properly. I learned when I was young and I wanted to make sure the children were safe, so they all started learning as babies.

"It takes a lot of organising. Gran helps and we take turns driving," she said.

"The pool is very flexible - they have a direct debit scheme that means if the children are ill and miss lessons you can make them up later."

Swimming is only one of the activities that the Huggetts take part in, The boys are keen footballers and they also have to make time for the Cubs and Beavers.

"It's really hectic in our house and they are out every evening and Saturday and Sunday mornings but I don't really mind," said Lisa.

"I would rather they were in the swimming pool than sitting in front of the TV. It's great to see them having fun in the water.

"They are confident in the water and they really enjoy themselves.

"My three-year-old has just got her 50m badge - and that's a great feeling when you are only three," she said.

It is the second year running that the Kentish Road swim school has had swimmers selected for outstanding achievements.

In 2003 "Super Gran" Diana Gooch was given the star treatment for achieving the 100 mile award shortly after learning to swim.

The Amateur Swimming Association has recognised the Huggett family for outstanding achievement in the special category and Olympic stars Sharron Davis and Nick Gillingham will be on hand to make the presentations.