Talented young swimmer competes at highest level possible

Swimmer Thomas Leighton had a successful weekend at the Swim England North East Regional swimming championships held at Ponds Forge International Sports Centre in Sheffield.

Thomas, 11, who attends Risedale School, qualified for ten different events at the championships and competed in seven of them.

He achieved personal bests in six out of the seven events and his highest accolade was winning the bronze medal in the 11-year-old old boys 50m backstroke.

Coach Keith Hall, of Richmond Dales Amateur Swimming Club, said: “To put this into perspective, this is the highest level of domestic competition that a swimmer of Thomas’ age can reach as the English and British Championships are only open to older swimmers.

“As a competitive swimming club we aim to allow our swimmers to compete at the highest level they can in their sport and Thomas is a very talented swimmer.”

He added: “This is a very significant achievement for Thomas and as a club we are extremely proud of him, not only for his performance at this event but for his commitment, attitude and dedication to his sport.

“Thomas is maturing into a dedicated athlete and we are very excited for his future in swimming. He is a credit to his family, himself and the school.”

Thomas has been swimming for Richmond Dales Amateur Swimming Club for three years. He trains up to five times a week with training sessions often lasting up to two hours.

Thomas said: “When I started swimming it was really just as a hobby but now I’m getting to a higher level it’s really made me determined to do well and try my very best.

“I absolutely love swimming and can’t wait to represent my club and the school at the next big competition.”

Head of PE at Risedale School Selina Brierley said: “We are all so proud of Thomas.

“His dedication to swimming is really something to be admired and commended.

“At Risedale one of our school aims is to ‘Build resilience, accept challenge and strive for excellence’ and Thomas is a wonderful example of this — congratulations Thomas.”