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Brilliant teen swimmer chasing Olympic dream eager for Ipswich pool reopening

Copleston Sixth Form student Sam Perkins, who is aiming to compete as an Olympic swimmer in the future. Picture: ANDREW PAPWORTH

Copleston Sixth Form student Sam Perkins, who is aiming to compete as an Olympic swimmer in the future. Picture: ANDREW PAPWORTH

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A teenage swimmer from Ipswich has spoken of how he is eager for Crown Pools to reopen when it is safe – so he can continue to chase his Olympic dream.

Sam Perkins in the pool. Picture: COURTESY OF DE PHOTOSSam Perkins in the pool. Picture: COURTESY OF DE PHOTOS

Sam Perkins, 17, is used to waking at 4.20am every day to fit in 1hr 45mins of gruelling training before his A-level studies at Copleston Sixth Form.

MORE: Meet Ipswich teenager who wakes up at 4.20am every day in pursuit of Olympic dream

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Yet his dedicated daily routine, which also includes a further daily practice session after college, as well as weekend competitions, was abruptly halted by the closure of Crown Pools due to the coronavirus crisis.

Having been swimming pretty much every day since he was in primary school, Sam admitted not being able to get in the pool for months had been difficult.

Indoor pools were given the green light to reopen by the government from Saturday, July 25, although Crown Pools has yet to confirm when it will be back up and running again.

MORE: Suffolk’s indoor pools will stay closed for now

“It’s been tough – every day is a struggle,” Sam said of the coronavirus restrictions.

However, he is determined that he and his fellow teamipswich swimming members “will come out stronger than were at the start”.

He added: “It’s going to be hard to adapt to it, but I believe it’s been for the greater good.”

Even though Sam hasn’t been able to get in the pool, he has kept up regular exercise in lockdown, for example by cycling and walking outside.

More recently, he has used gym equipment at his grandparents’ house – always keeping socially distanced, of course.

Teamipswich swimming has held weekly online sessions, which contain exercises to help swimmers keep in shape.

Sam said the chance to get outside more had been “refreshing”, but added that: “It’s okay to have days when you’re sad about being in the pool.”

He also said it was natural for swimmers to question whether they will be as good when they eventually jump back in the water.

However, he said: “It’s just a question of building yourself back up again.”

He added that lockdown had given him the chance to devote even more time to his A-level studies and praised Copleston Sixth Form for providing not only its “amazing” online learning, but wellbeing support as well.

About Sam Perkins

Sam’s Olympic dream started as a Year 6 pupil at Ipswich’s Britannia Primary School, when he drew a picture of himself with an Olympic gold medal round his neck during an activity where youngsters were encouraged to “be the best you can be”.

Joining teamipswich swimming, he has since totted up more than 100 medals in various contests around the country and is ranked among one of the country’s best young swimmers.

Yet Sam often treats contests as part of the training for the big competition he hopes one day to reach - the Olympics.

After finishing his A-levels, Sam would like to take a couple of years out to focus on swimming before hopefully winning a scholarship to university in America to study sports psychology alongside swimming training.

He knows the training regime is tough, but hopes to reach the Olympics in 2024 or 2028.


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