An Oxford student may be among those competing in the 2012 Olympic Games, after his natural swimming talent astounded British sporting authorities earlier this year.
Jack Marriott, who until recently was reading Engineering Science at Hertford College, first started to turn heads in February, at the BUCS Long Course Championships.
He entered the 50m butterfly race, having never competed in this event before, and came first, missing the Championship record by under a tenth of the second.
Shortly afterwards he competed in the same event at the British Gas Swimming Championships in Manchester, and took home the gold medal, boasting the sixth fastest ever time recorded by a Briton.
Marriott achieved all this after swimming in Oxford for just 8 hours a week, a modest regime compared to most élite competitors.
Marriott’s natural ability did not go unnoticed, and he was offered a place on the Intensive Training Centre in Loughborough, one of the best squads of swimmers in the world.
Marriott told Cherwell that he has no regrets about leaving Oxford, though he remains determined to complete his degree.
He said, “much more qualified swimmers have asked to join this squad, so to turn down this opportunity would be extremely stupid!
“I am hugely privileged to be where I am. It is a fantastic experience to train as a full time athlete, and a rewarding change from mental to physical exertion.”
Though Marriott’s decision to leave Oxford was quite sudden, his tutors at Hertford volunteered to make a formal proposal to the college on his behalf.
He described their reaction as “extremely supportive”.
Marriott will spend the next few months gaining race experience by competing in events in Barcelona and Rome, and then attending an intensive training camp in Tenerife.
His ultimate aim is to qualify for the 2012 Olympic Games at the trials which will be held next March.