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THORP ACADEMY has turned to an Olympic medalist in a bid to help young swimmers make a splash.

Nick Gillingham won a silver medal at the Seoul Games in 1988 and a bronze in Barcelona four years later. He also boasts golds from World and European Championships among his extensive list of achievements.

Now Gillingham will lead coaching sessions in the pool with Thorp's swimmers as part of the Ryton secondary school and sixth form's exciting new sports scholarship scheme, the Elite Performer Programme.

He has already led his first, with students Sarah March, Charlotte Grant and Emma Eddy all taking part. More sessions are planned in the months ahead and he is looking forward to helping the talented swimmers progress.

Gillingham said: "I will be hands on with the development of swimming both from a planning and delivery perspective.

"In this respect, I will place the foundations for long term athlete development with a very strong focus on swim skills and learning to train; an educational approach so that the young athlete swimmers can maximise potential.

"Anything new is always exciting to me and although there will be challenges the initiative is tried and tested so it's a pleasure to support the roll-out of the programme across a wider community."

The Elite Performer Programme aims to ensure that students at Thorp Academy fulfil their potential both academically and in their specialised sport.

Swimming is just one of a wide-range of sports on offer. There will be expert guidance and tuition from European Tour golfer Graeme Storm as well as former professional footballers such as Julio Arca and Gary Bennett.

After years of swimming at the highest level, Gillingham is enjoying being on the other side to use his expertise to help the next generation of young swimmers.

He said: "Swimming has given me so much and it's great to give back. I've learned from the ups and downs of an elite sporting career that spanned 13 years with Great Britain.

I've travelled the world and worked with some amazing people. I've learned by my own mistakes and successes.

My passion is obvious to those I work with and if this either transcends or is innate in those I work with then the sport will be in safe hands. That's part of my legacy as a development and performance coach as well as a coach educator."

For further details about the Elite Performer Programme contact [email protected]