Posted by: Laura Hammond
Thu 19th August 2021
A teenage swimmer from Alfreton who smashed his personal best at the Tokyo Olympics has described his experience as a “dream”.
Jacob Whittle, who is just 16 years old, competed in the men’s 100m freestyle competition at the end of July, making it through to the semi-finals.
He finished his heat in just 48.11 seconds – securing a new personal best and finishing the heat in sixth place.
Describing his experience, Jacob said: “It was a dream – to get to represent GB, to be in such a privileged position to inspire people back home at a time when there are so many negative things going on in the world and to perform on such an impressive world stage was just amazing.
“I was so happy that I kept improving and that I got to be part of the wonderful team that had record breaking performances in the pool.”
Since returning from Tokyo, Jacob has collected his GCSE results and is preparing for his next steps – even as far ahead as the Paris 2024 Olympics.
He said: “I want to do my degree in Motor Sport Engineering so I worked with Josh Rudd (English Institute of Sport) to help me look at options for my next steps to best balance my education with swimming.
“I decided to move to Loughborough College for the next 3 years doing a couple of courses that will gain me practical experience and the entry requirements to do a degree in Motor Sport Engineering. This will work out perfectly as from September I will train full time out of Loughborough National Centre which is based at the university. The college campus is just across the road from the pool at Loughborough.
“My course is 3 days per week which will mean that I can continue my studies and education but also will be able to dedicate the right amount of time to my training over the next 3 years leading up to Paris.”
Before then though, Jacob will be back in the pool as part of the New York Breakers team for the International Swimming League.
He explains: “The first round takes place in Naples, Italy, and runs from August 26, to the end of September. Various teams made up of swimmers from all around the world compete against each other in a series of matches.
“The top eight teams will then go onto the next place over two weeks in November and then the final four teams will compete in the final in December. Each stage takes place in a different city around the world.”
Jacob also hopes to be selected to represent England in the Commonwealth Games next summer, as well as the European Swimming Championshops and World Swimming Championships.
On Jacob’s incredible achievements and his Olympic experience, his proud mum Leanne said: “It didn’t feel real to be honest.
“We are used to Jacob being away and competing without us being there so it felt a little but like he was just at another overseas swimming competition. I think because we were getting lots of messages from people and all our neighbours were following him and the press and media attention it then sunk in that he was actually at the Olympics.
“Jacob is a really down to earth boy though and he is always really grounded in what he does so this helped. Of course we were so proud of him but for us we were proud of the person that he is.”
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