Olympic swimmer James Kirton inspires students at Trinity Academy

Trinity Academy

Friday, 20th January 2017

Olympic swimmer James Kirton inspires students at Trinity Academy

Olympian shares the highs and lows of his career

AN Olympian has shared the highs and lows of his career to give students an insight into what it takes to reach the highest level in sport.

James Kirton spent the day with talented sports students at Trinity Academy, in Thorne, running workshops and presentations to help develop their leadership skills.

James explained how he rose from joining a swimming club at the age of ten to competing for Great Britain in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.

"I was a bit of a crazy kid, always getting into mischief, so I started swimming when I was eight because my mum and dad wanted to keep me safe and thought swimming would be good for me," he explained.

"I loved it and joined a club then qualified to swim in the Yorkshire Championships. I got a silver medal in the 50m breaststroke. It was the first time I had ever been recognised for being good at something and that's when I fell in love with it.

"It just shows that if you don't try something you will never know if you're good at it or will enjoy it, which is why I always encourage young people to try new things."

He went on to train and compete around the world as a professional swimmer representing Great Britain. "I cried the first time I put on my Team GB tracksuit because I was so proud," he admitted.

By 2007 he was seventh in the world in the 200m breaststroke and was convinced he could win a medal at the Olympics the following year.

However, disaster struck when he suffered a major groin injury and an operation four weeks before the Olympic trials appeared to ruin his chances.

Describing the extremes to which he was prepared to go to compete, James told the Year 7s how he removed staples from his groin to race, and qualify. For the Olympics, he had to have the neural pathways in his groin cut so he could feel no pain.

"I came 25th. It was amazing to be there but I was also really upset that I couldn't do as well as I should have done," he said.

"We can all be OK but the moment you decide you want to go from good to great that's when it gets tough,” he said.

“You've got to put in extra effort to work extra hard, which for me meant getting up at 4.15am and training at least 35 hours a week. I wasn't very, very talented, but I did work really, really hard."

James, who is from Barnsley, was forced to retire in 2011 due to a shoulder injury. He joined the Sky Sports Living for Success programme 18 months ago, mentoring and delivering motivational messages to young people.

Student Ryan Green, 12, of Stainforth, said: "I learned that if you stick with something you will get there in the end."

Erin Dilk, 11, of Thorne, added: "Even though some things are difficult you've got to carry on and give it 100 per cent."

PE teacher Katie O'Brien said the students would put their skills to the test as sports leaders in PE lessons and in the summer tern when they will host a festival of sport for local primary school children.