Burning ambition to swim

Official opening of new swimming pool and training centre, Olympic swimmer James Kirton checks out the new pool (w120326-16b)
Official opening of new swimming pool and training centre, Olympic swimmer James Kirton checks out the new pool (w120326-16b)
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BARNSLEY Academy learning mentor Liz Kirton has her own story to inspire her students.

She is the mum of James Kirton, a swimmer for Team GB.

He made the heats of the 200m breastroke in the Beijing Olympics but injury prevented him reaching the final. He has just announced his retirement from the sport after injury also stopped him competing for a place in London.

She said: “At the age of nine James decided he wanted to be a swimmer. He was obsessed by it and trained three times a week.”

James started with the Royal Borough of Barnsley club but moved to the City of Sheffield club, based at Ponds Forge.

She said: “All his life was just a matter of getting through the day to get to his training.”

He made the team for the world championships held in Australia but injuries were soon taking their toll.

Liz remembers having to help him out of the pool as he pushed his body to its limit in a bid to be the best.

It meant a lot of sacrifice for the family as he had to be training by 4.30am. Liz changed jobs three times to find work that fitted in with his schedule.

Her husband Alan became involved with the sport and is now head coach for Rotherham Swimming Club.