Forest Sports Education (FSE) student Harry Clark will be hoping Christmas comes early this year with swimming success at the upcoming Welsh Short Course National Championships.
Harry will travel to Swansea for the two-day national event from December 2nd, where he will aim to produce the same sparkling form that saw him clean up at his previous competition.
The swimming sensation secured six gold medals, three silvers and a bronze at the recent Monmouthshire County Championships in Newport but he will take part in the 50-metre freestyle and butterfly respectively in Swansea, which are his two favourite disciplines.
And the 17-year-old is hoping he can replicate his success on a national scale.
“I’m really excited for the challenge of this competition and I’ve been training very hard with my coaches since I qualified,” Harry said.
“I would love to achieve a first place in my events and hopefully I can make that happen but I know it’ll be tough with a lot of other good swimmers racing against me. I think it will make me swim harder and faster so if I can do that I’ll be in with a chance on the day!”
Harry’s love affair with swimming started from an early age when he would find himself in the pool honing his skills alongside his older brother.
“I started swimming at around three years old because my older brother was competing and my dad wanted me to do it as well,” he added.
“My dad pushed me to carry on but I stopped when I was 14 as I wasn’t enjoying it anymore but then I came to FSE and my lecturer and head of the college gave me a push back into the sport and I haven’t looked back since!
“I now have two sponsors- Performance Berry Powder and Never Enough Sportswear – who provide me with kit and supplements for my competitions so it’s all a bit surreal now!”
Harry, who is currently in the second year of his BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma in Sport (Performance and Excellence), is hoping that he can continue his progression in the pool while also achieving outside of it.
He said: “The college is very good with allowing me to train and they also help me catch up if I do ever miss anything in lessons. They are aware that I have been training in the morning and they help me get back up to speed with things when needed.”
Although Harry’s focus is firmly set on his upcoming competition, he is hoping that he can use it as a springboard for further success in the future.
He added: “If I can finish in first place I will then qualify for the British Championships and then that opens up opportunities to qualify for the European Championships.
“It would be unreal to get through to that stage and if I did I guess I’d have the Olympics in my mind then! We’ll have to see what happens but I’m excited to see what progress I can achieve.
“FSE has been a really positive experience for me so far as it has helped with not just my swimming but also given me an idea regarding what other career opportunities there are in the sport industry.”
Richard Kear, Director of FSE, said: “Harry has been a fantastic student since he started here in September 2015 and it is great to see him achieving academically and in his sport. His attitude to each facet has been to a very high standard and we wish him every success in his national competition.”