Down’s Syndrome swimmer Andy Banks bags European Championship medal treble

Andy bounced back from a quiet year by wnning three European Championship medals for GB EMN-170811-084041002
Andy bounced back from a quiet year by wnning three European Championship medals for GB EMN-170811-084041002
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Down’s Syndrome swimmer Andy Banks has his sights set on completing a decade with the British team after landing a European Championship medal hat-trick.

The 30-year-old from Harby returned home from Paris with two golds and a silver after representing Britain in the fourth Down’s Syndrome European Swimming Championships.

Andy (left) and his relay team-mates twice struck gold EMN-170811-092637002

Andy (left) and his relay team-mates twice struck gold EMN-170811-092637002

If he can achieve the qualifying standard for next year’s world championships, in Canada, it will mark 10 years of representing his country in the pool.

An extended field of 17 European countries, bolstered by two guest competing nations – South Africa and Brazil – took part in the biennial championships, including strong entries from Britain, France, Spain and Portugal.

The competition was spread over five long days, with heats held in the mornings, and finals and relays in the afternoon and evening, usually finishing at 7.30pm.

Andy faced a particularly packed schedule, entered in the freestyle at 50m, 100m, 200m, 400m and 800m, the 50m butterfly, and the 100m individual medley.

The Vale of Belvoir swimmer opened his account with a good swim in the 200m free to qualify for the final later that day.

But he served up his best swim of the week in the 800m freestyle to secure the silver medal.

Dad Keith said: “It was a very proud moment for him to be on the podium collecting his medal.”

The British team boasted strong teams in all relays, with Andy going in the 4x100m freestyle and 4x200m freestyle events.

Led out by Stephen Boyce, and followed by Mark Holmes and Andy, and anchored by Billy Birchmore, the British team’s fastest swimmer, they pipped the French to take gold in the 4x100m freestyle in a time just two seconds outside the European record.

Their performance was repeated in the 4x200m event with the same four swimmers again taking the gold medal to complete Andy’s medal treble.

He will now switch his attentions to qualifying for his sixth world championships in Canada next summer and that landmark anniversary with GB.

The next European Championships will be held in Spain in 2019.

“Andy would like to thank all those who have helped him with his achievements, especially the coaches at Melton Swimming Club,” Keith added.