Swimming sensation has sights set firmly on 2020 Olympics
Published on: 07 Sep 2015
HE started off in the learner pool at Kingswood Leisure Centre but just look at Will Cole now.
The 16-year-old swimming sensation has his sights firmly set on the 2020 Olympics after a string of successes in the pool.
Will has just finished racing in this year’s British Summer Nationals where he won two bronze medals and a silver medal.
But it was the coveted gold he won in the 100m freestyle category which has given him a British Champion title and the taste of future stardom.
Will, who sat his GCSEs this year, started his swimming career as a pre-school tot when he took lessons at Kingswood Leisure Centre.
Will’s potential was spotted by his teacher, World Masters’ swimmer Carol Fellows, who asked a coach at the leisure centre-based Soundwell Swimming Club to take a look at him.
The coach, John Britton, immediately saw Will had something special and suggested to Will’s mum that the club could bring out his true potential.
After joining the club at the age of eight, Will has worked his way steadily through the club’s squad structure, competing and becoming a formidable swimmer in the South West region.
His achievements include becoming a South Gloucestershire primary schools event winner and record holder, a Gloucester County champion and record holder and a Western County champion and junior record holder.
Will first qualified for the National Swimming Championships in 2013, picking up a bronze and a silver medal.
He was selected to represent England Youth in Italy earlier this year and came home with two bronze medals and a silver.
Because of his potential as a future Olympian, Will now trains at the high performance pool at Hengrove Leisure Centre where his skills are being honed for future glory.
Will, who lives in Oldland Common with mum Laura, dad Ron and his 19-year-old sister Jennie, said it has been a wrench leaving the only pool and club he’s ever known.
“I’ve only ever been at one pool and it’s quite sad that I’ve had to leave but it’s a sacrifice I have to make to move ahead. Swimming becomes your social life and I’ve had eight years to get to know everyone at Soundwell and I’m really close to them. You go through all the pain and hard work together.”
His latest medal haul at the summer nationals has provided the boost Will needed after a difficult period juggling training with GCSE revision at Sir Bernard Lovell School in Oldland Common.
“I’ve had a tough last couple of seasons due to school work but having British Champion at the end of all of my GCSEs lifted me quite a bit and has given me confidence.
“I’m on the England Talent Programme and for the past year they have been monitoring me. If I’m selected for the squad for the 2020 Olympics it wouldn’t be until the April of 2020. They pick you really close to the Games in case you lose your fitness.
“I want it really badly but it can be quite daunting to think ahead to five years in the future and how many hours a week you have to train to get there. I try to take each day as it comes and try to put the best I can into the day.”
This month Will will start at St Brendan’s Sixth Form College where he will study A-levels in law, maths, accounting and psychology.
At the moment he trains eight times a week but when his new season starts he will be upping the ante to 10 two-hour sessions, including four early morning ones.
Due to training commitments Will has limited spare time but manages to fit in working on a casual basis as a lifeguard at Kingswood Leisure Centre and playing computer games.
Laura said: “We’re just really proud of him and hope he can keep it up.
“He’s got the potential to go all the way - he’s just got to want it enough. It’s a lot of commitment - not just from Will but also from his family and coaches. We’re all behind him and support him and hope he will go as far as he can.”
Club chairman Julian Lewis said: “Will has proved himself to be an exceptional swimmer, talented on all four strokes.
“He continues to pursue his dreams to become an Olympian with tremendous support and encouragement from everyone in the swimming community at Soundwell.
“Will has now outgrown the training hours and size of pool on offer at Kingswood and has moved to train at Hengrove Leisure Centre with the City of Bristol Performance Pathway. The coaches and committee at Soundwell Swimming Club have encouraged and fully supported his move to this high performance centre.
“Will still remains a valued member of Soundwell Swimming Club. He is a fantastic role model and inspiration for all the budding young swimmers who aim to follow in his footsteps.
“We are extremely proud of Will and all his achievements and know he has the ability to go all the way.”