A seven-year-old boy is in the running to be crowned one of the UK’s unsung water stars after swimming the equivalent of the English Channel for charity.
Oliver Saunders, of West Woodlands, near Frome, is to meet some of Britain’s Olympic heroes at the 2012 Kellogg’s ASA Swimtastic Awards today after being shortlisted in the Young Swimmer of the Year category.
The Somerset Standard Young Person of the Year travels to Ponds Forge, Sheffield, to swim with the stars of British swimming including Paralympics’ double gold medalist Ellie Simmonds.
A star-studded awards ceremony will follow in the evening, attended by some of the top names in British swimming.
The awards are organised by the ASA, the national governing body for swimming, and celebrate the achievements of swimmers of all ages and abilities from around the country.
Dedicated swimmer Oliver took up swimming aged four and is the youngest boy to complete the Aspire Channel Swim – a national fundraising event which provides help for people with spinal injuries.
This involved him swimming 22 miles over 12 weeks at his local pool where he raised more than £1,100 for the charity.
He even set up a blog about the swim and received messages of support from his sporting heroes including Olympic swimmers Rebecca Adlington and Mark Foster.
Since completing the challenge, Oliver is continuing to train hard and has set his sights on an Olympic gold medal in 2020, saying: “Michael Phelps started at 15 and so can I.”
Karen Saunders, Oliver’s mum, who nominated him for the award, said: “Oliver loves nothing more than to swim and his progress and prowess in the pool has helped him gain more confidence in other areas of his life.
“He has a genuine passion for the sport and the dedication and determination needed to set himself new goals in order to continually improve.
“He may only be seven but he already knows exactly what he wants, and what he needs to do to get that gold medal in 2020 – I’m so proud of him.”