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Bickley swimming sensation gears up for Mexico challenge after medal haul

PUBLISHED: 12:03 16 November 2017 | UPDATED: 13:13 16 November 2017

21-year-old Billy Birchmore

21-year-old Billy Birchmore

Archant

A Bickley student has become an international swimming sensation after winning eleven gold medals at the Downs Syndrome International Swimming Organisation (DSISO) European Championships.

London South East Colleges student Billy Birchmore, 21, whose parents were told at birth that he might never walk or talk, won eight individual gold medals in Paris earlier this month. He then took to the pool again for Team GB’s relay finals and helped win a further three golds and three silvers, going on to achieve the status of Top Male T21 Swimmer.

He is now training hard for the INAS World Swimming Championships in Mexico, where he will be travelling next month to compete.

Returning to college this week, Billy, who swims six days a week, said: “For now, it’s back to concentrating on my college work. I would like to become a swimming coach at a leisure centre one day and that’s what I need to focus on long-term.

“I’m looking forward to my next challenge in Mexico and training hard in the evenings and at weekends. I’m very proud of what I’ve achieved so far and just want to keep winning. It gives me such a good feeling.”

Billy, who started swimming when he was 13 years old, trains with the Orpington Ojays and Sharks of Mottingham. He currently holds a world 100m backstroke record of 1.15.70.

He attributes his success to his swimming coach Sergio, the nutritious food prepared by his mum Jackie, and inspiration and support from his dad Steve, head of recruitment at Watford Football Club.

Next July will see Billy represent team GB at the DSISO World Championships in Canada.

Rhona Sapsford, assistant principal for special educational needs and disabilities at London South East Colleges said: “Billy has become a super hero in the college. He has an amazing attitude to his sport and is very ambitious for his future career. He provides inspiration and encouragement to his fellow students and is a pleasure to teach. We will all be rooting for him next month.”

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