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University bidding war starts to take Somerset swimmer Chris Wilson's talent to United States

By Western Daily Press  |  Posted: January 18, 2014

Somerset swimmer Chris Wilson has been offered a $100,000 scholarship to study in the United States. The former Taunton School pupil drew offers from four universities in the US keen to capitalise on his talent

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He trains for 14 hours a week, with plenty of early morning starts, but the effort is paying off for sixth-form swimming star Chris Wilson.

Chris, aged 17, will be off to the United States to study after leaving Taunton School this summer, after four universities offered him scholarships with swimming high on their agenda. The most valuable is worth a total of 100,000 dollars off the four-year tuition fee.

Chris, a student at the school since pre-prep days, is currently studying A-levels in business studies, geology and PE. But swimming is his passion, and he has qualified for this year's national finals in the 100 metres butterfly.

He is a member of Taunton Deane Swimming Club and will also be representing it in the national Arena League Final. He starts training at 5.45am four days a week, swimming in the 25-metre Taunton Prep pool under the guidance of Graham Davidson, who is both the school and Taunton Deane swimming coach.

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"It's a huge part of my life," said Chris. "I love being around the people I swim with and it takes my mind off the pressures of school and life. I love it in the water."

Following guidance from Taunton School head of careers David Hawkins, Chris applied for, and has now been offered, scholarships to study business at Augustana College in Illinois, the University of Indianapolis, Hood College in Maryland and Susquehanna University in Pennsylvania.

"I visited both Augustana and Illinois during half-term," he added. "I liked them both and would be one of the best swimmers in their team if I went there."

And what are his future targets in the pool? "I've just made my first goal by getting the national qualifying time and I'm not looking much further than that. The next step would be to get my Commonwealth Games time and take it from there," he said.

Headmaster Dr John Newton said: "Chris has been a sporting star in the school for many years and this is just reward for the hours of hard work he has put in. Chris is superbly supported by his family and we all hope this is the start of something very big for him."

Mr Hawkins added: "These universities in the USA were suggested to Chris as being a good match for him, making use of expertise built up at Taunton School about global university options over many years. Taunton School has the knowledge to find the best match for students all over the world, looking beyond the few household names."

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