In January, Oundle resident William Roberts (18) was selected to train and compete with the Down Syndrome Swimming (DSS) GB Team. In August, he took part in the GB National Special Olympic Summer Games in Sheffield as part of the Eastern Region Team, winning a gold for the 50m freestyle with a new PB and a bronze for the 50m backstroke.
William has recently returned from Paris as part of the DSS GB Team, competing in the Down Syndrome International Swimming Organisation European Championships where there were eighteen countries and 108 swimmers taking part.
William progressed through all the heats to the finals of the 100m breaststroke, the 50m breaststroke and the 100m individual medley. He came 7th, 6th and 6th respectively in the European rankings for these races. He also gained four new PBs in his other races and was placed overall 15th out of sixty-one male swimmers in Europe and 19th overall out of 108 swimmers.
William’s mother and Chair of Peterborough Special Olympic Swimming Group (PSOSG), Joh Sydenham said: ‘This was a fantastic achievement for William’s first international competition. He started swimming when he was four and needed a little extra help to get him started.
‘The staff at Oundle Otters provided fantastic support and encouragement, literally teaching him hand over hand how to swim.’
All the committee members, coaches and other helpers of the PSOSG are volunteers and rely entirely on charitable donations to fund attending galas and to buy equipment for training. The swimmers attend four or five galas a year and every four years they compete in the UK National Special Olympic Games.
William is a part-time groundsman at Oundle School. He started in 2015 as a volunteer on his non-college days and has been able to expand on the skills he learnt for his BTEC Land Based Studies Level 1 at Moulton College, including learning how to check and use a lawnmower and strimmer and all the safety gear. William continues to do work experience one day a week for the grounds and gardens team whilst also attending New College Stamford.