Story Quest – Dragons Can’t Swim

Welcome to Story Quest, a weekly podcast where we bring your stories to life!

In this episode we bring Gus’s story – Dragons Can’t Swim – to life.

If you have a story idea, you could be like Gus and have it turned into a Story Quest. All you have to do is send us your story idea here. We know you have the best imaginations and together we can create the most brilliant stories!

That’s just what Gus did. You can watch the story she suggested come to life below, plus she tells us all about the inspiration behind the story at the end.

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Read along to Dragons Can’t Swim!

You can read along to the story while you listen. Just follow the text below. Don’t worry if you find a word tricky – you can pause the video whenever to give yourself more time.

No one in the Valley of Gold could understand Zimran.  I should explain – The Valley of Gold was the place where you’d find dragons – after all they had to come from somewhere didn’t they?  They didn’t just magically appear on top of piles of treasure in caves, or swoop from nowhere to terrorise peaceable folk or do battle with Knights.

Zimran was a small young dragon who lived with the others in the Valley.  He wasn’t expected to do much – practice being menacing a few times a week, work on puffing fire from his snout once a day and get good at sleeping on piles of uncomfortable coins.  It was only uncomfortable for the young dragons – the older dragons get, the tougher their scales and then it’s actually quite nice for them as they can scratch their scaly itches against the gems and crowns and whatnot.  But anyway – as you can see there wasn’t much to do and Zimran was BORED.

I want to travel the world! He complained as he shuffled uncomfortably on a pile of gold coins.  “Not sit here like a ludicrous chicken in a nest!”

“Dragons don’t travel the world!”

This was DYZAN THE STUBBORN, one of the elder dragon’s in the realm. “You’ll be assigned a kingdom to terrorise in due course and that’s where you’ll stay” he snorted.

“BORING!” huffed Zimran, puffing out a whisp of fire out of frustration.  “Well why can’t I learn to ride a bike?? Or fly a plane?”

“Have you ever heard of anything so ridiculous!!” said DYZAN THE STUBBORN.  “Dragons can’t ride bikes or fly pilanes. First of all your arms are too short to reach the handlebars on a bike and there’s no way you’d get through the cockpit door of a plane.”

Zimran had to admit that it did seem unlikely but even still “BORING!” he huffed.  “Well what about swimming?  Look – there’s the Luminous Lagoon just on the edge of the realm – it glitters and twinkles in the sun and think how lovely it would be to take a dip?”

“Dragons can’t swim!” exclaimed DYZAN THE STUBBORN – now hooting with laughter.  “You’d sink like a stone with your heft!  I’ve never heard anything so funny in my life!

Zimran trudged off despondently. It seemed the only things he was going to do in his life were BORING and all the interesting stuff was to be kept from him forever.

He trudged down to the Lagoon that afternoon to have a proper sulk.  Sitting on the edge he couldn’t resist but to dip one clawed foot in the twinkling water.  The cool water was soothing and refreshing and he decided to put the other clawed foot in too.  Then he quickly took them out – what if someone had seen him PADDLING – like a HUMAN.  And he was fed up of being laughed at.

He heard a quacking noise – a duck on the lagoon had seen him and was swishing over the water towards him. 

“That’s one brave duck” thought Zimran – after all dragons aren’t too fussy about what they scorch and eat.  Luckily for the duck Zimran had had his lunch already.

“Come on in!” quacked the duck –  “The water is LOVELY!”

“Aren’t you afraid of me?” said Zimran, suspiciously.

“Not really.  You’re not a very big dragon are you? I’ve found the whole scorching and eating thing is something only the older ones want to do.”

Zimran thought about this.  It was right.  HE wanted to do so many other things – ride bikes, fly planes, travel the world and swim in the beautiful lagoon.

“I bet you’d rather be swimming in this lake!” the duck observed.  “I saw you dipping your claw in.  But don’t worry I won’t tell.”

“Yeah.  Dragons can’t swim and they wouldn’t be allowed to even if they could”

“Now slow down there” quacked the duck.  “How do you KNOW you CAN’T swim, even if you have been told you aren’t allowed?”

Zimran shrugged – there must be a reason although he couldn’t think of one.

“I’ll teach you to swim!” said the duck. “You’ll be great!  I bet you’ll take to it…”

“Like a duck to water?” smiled Zimran – it was an enticing idea.  “But it will be HOPELESS. I told you Dragons…”

“Yeah yeah – can’t swim and all that.  But I am a firm believer of this: How do you KNOW if you don’t have a GO?  Come on, let’s get started.”

So that’s what happened.  When his scorching practice was over each day he’d plod over to the lagoon and the Duck, (whose name was Speckles), began to teach to swim.

First he padded into the shallow waters and got used to the feel of the water on his scales – then he went a little deeper still, and deeper still – and as his confidence grew he took one foot of the lagoon sandy floor – then another – then another – and another – and before he knew it he was swimming!


“Look!” he puffed – “I’m doing it! I’m doing it!” And he was, it has to be said aided by the fact that dragons have quite a thick layer of blubber under their scales it turned out that dragons could definitely float and actually swim really very well.

But it had to remain a secret of course and that made Zimran sad, although he slipped to the lagoon whenever he could to bask in the gentle waters with Speckles.

Things were about to change, as things tend to do.  It was the season of the rains in the Valley of Gold and every day the land was hammered by storms and thunder.  The caves began to fill up with the floodwater and so the dragons had to lumber to higher ground or find robust trees to perch upon.  You might know that Valleys are sort of massive ditches, the opposite of a hill and so if it’s very rainy and there are floods, it’s not a great place to be.  I mean dragons can fly a bit but it’s more like the way chickens or pigeons fly – they can do it for a little while but then get worn out and go back to walking again.

And the water kept coming.  It was a miserable time.  And a dangerous time.  One particularly stormy day alarm went around the Valley – the floods were worse than ever – most of the dragons had found a safe piece of dry land to huddle upon but DYZAN THE STUBBORN the dragon elder was too weak to fly – he had found a tall tree to cling to but the water in the woods was getting so high he was in danger of losing his grip – and of course dragons can’t swim can they?

“What shall we do?  Even if we could fly to him he’s too heavy to carry!” said one of the other dragons in charge.  Sometimes in an emergency when everyone’s in a panic the people in charge start to look a bit well – NOT in charge.  It was CHAOS.

But then Zimran had an idea.  He puffed some smoke to get everyone’s attention.

“I can swim to him – leave it to me!”

“But Dragons can’t….”

“Look do you want me to help or not?!” he huffed. Learning to swim had given him quite a bit of new-found confidence it seemed. There was silence and then amazement as Zimran began an elegant backstroke into the floodlit woods, he reached DYZAN THE STUBBORN and grabbed him from the perilous treetop and using some lifesaving manouvres that Speckles the duck had shown him brought DYZAN THE STUBBORN safely to the dry land, some way away.

A cheer went up from the other dragons and everyone excitedly began to ask him how on earth he’d been able to swim!? And Zimran was delighted to tell them his story about his lessons with Speckles in the beautiful lagoon.

DYZAN THE STUBBORN was grateful to be saved, and Zimran was happy – he didn’t need to keep it a secret anymore.  In time many of the other dragons would come to the lagoon and splash and swim in the twinkling water.

And as the rains dried, and things went back to normal DYZAN THE STUBBORN apologised to Zimran.

“It seems I was wrong – Dragon’s CAN Swim! ….. But I have to say I’m still not sure they can ride bikes or fly planes!”

Zimran giggled – “Well you might be right!” he said, kindly, but then thinking of what his friend Speckles had said: “But How do you know if you don’t have a go?”

And I think that’s pretty good advice don’t you? – whether you’re a dragon or not!

Do you have a story you want to hear made into a Story Quest?

We’d love to hear from you, submit your idea here and maybe we’ll be hearing you on Story Quest soon.

And you can listen to more Story Quest stories here.

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