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'Training for silly hours at silly o'clock'
1:00pm Tuesday 27th November 2012 in Countywide
Memories of the London Olympic Games still burn bright. There were 36 sports and all of them can be enjoyed here in Oxfordshire. Reporter Pete Hughes dips into the world of swimming:
“When Becky Adlington said ‘you don’t know my sport’, she was dead on.”
These are the words of Jo Murphy, who started a swimming club in Didcot just so her two boys could train.
Now, her son Alex, 17, has been selected for Team GB, and her son David, 13, is also on an England training programme.
Both now train with the Abingdon Vale Swimming Club.
Mrs Murphy said: “You don’t train once or twice a week, you have to do silly hours at silly o’clock in the morning.
“Competitive swimming is so unique, it is so time-hungry and that is why there is such a drop-out rate.
“I don’t think people get it.”
Her sons swim 14 hours a week, getting up at 4.30am three weekdays and one day each weekend.
Alex is travelling to a development meet in Belgium next year, has been involved with the Lloyds TSB Local Heroes programme, and last year was nominated for the Oxfordshire Sports Awards.
David may not yet have the same plaudits, but he has the same dedication.
He said: “It takes determination, commitment and pain.”
David started taking lessons at Didcot Leisure Centre, which was where his coach spotted him.
Because there was no swimming club in Didcot at the time, Mrs Murphy started one, and David quickly found that he had an aptitude for the sport.
“Once you start winning things you want to do it more,” he said.
He has won medals at county and regional levels, and in July he came sixth in the national finals for his age group.
He said he would love to go to Rio, but is setting his sights on 2020, and is already in the England talent squad.
While he does other sports at school at King Alfred’s in Wantage, he said: “It is mostly about swimming.”
Alex is also a student at King Alfred’s, which has allowed him time off for his swimming, including two weeks to fly to Australia next year for a competition.
He is on a four-year England talent programme with British Swimming.
For pool time and quality, he now travels to Ealing each Sunday to train.
Mrs Murphy said: “British swimmers did not get the medals they hoped to at the Olympics, but still have a map for the Road to Rio.”