Dawn, 15, aims to make splash at Games

COMMONWEALTH GAMES: Karen Pickering might be the most recognisable Suffolk name when it comes to this week's Commonwealth swimming sessions – but there's one young star who deserves equal praise and support.

COMMONWEALTH GAMES

KAREN Pickering might be the most recognisable Suffolk name when it comes to this week's Commonwealth swimming sessions – but there's one young star who deserves equal praise and support.

At just 15, Suffolk's Dawn Jason will represent the Welsh Aquatics team when she takes to the pool for the 800 metres Freestyle.

From Newmarket and a member of the West Suffolk Swimming Club, Dawn has consistently been in the top three in her age group in the UK for a number of events.

She is a multi-stroke swimmer and has competed at National Age medallist level in 100 and 200 metres Backstroke, 200 and 400 metres IM and 200, 400 and 800 metres Freestyle.

Numerous Suffolk County Championship and county records have been set by Dawn in the last few years.

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Dawn's Commonwealth debut will see her in the water tomorrow for the 800 metres Freestyle, and then back on Saturday for the 400 metres Freestyle.

Her first day of competition will doubtless prove tough, given that the Suffolk teenager is also potentially set to take part in the 4x200 metres Freestyle with her team-mates.

"We're exceptionally proud of Dawn's achievement and she's having a fantastic time up there in Manchester," said dad, Bob Jason.

"This was meant to be what the Welsh Team refer to as her 'development year' – a year in which she doesn't go for the top level competition but learns a lot from the senior levels.

"In fact, things didn't turn out that way. She took herself by surprise when she qualified for the Commonwealths in her own right, so it's come sooner than we expected."

Training twice a day for six or seven days a week, Dawn has dramatically improved her times and is being looked upon as a great talent.

She may not have anticipated the Manchester event so soon after turning 15, but she's certainly enjoying it so far.

"She's been on the phone a couple of times a day and is really full of excitement about it all," commented Bob.

"She met David Beckham, was among the swimmers who had lunch with the Queen and is now being looked after in a team 'buddy system' at the Games by top swimmer, James Hickman."

He added: "She's a very ambitious girl and we're proud of her for that. She's already at the Commonwealths and she's not even sat her GCSEs yet."

For Dawn, this first Commonwealth opportunity puts her in good stead for her future swimming career.

Karen Pickering was considerably older when she competed in her first session at this level – aged 19 at the time.

"Karen is a very good role model for Dawn because she is only up the road," said Bob. "Both Karen and her coach Dave Champion have been very good at giving her advice and support and it all seems to be paying off."

Intent on representing Wales in Melbourne in 2006, Dawn gains her right to swim for the team because her father was born there.

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