Melton swimmer Will Graham secures historic national title

Will Graham EMN-150819-105515002
Will Graham EMN-150819-105515002
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Will Graham produced the two fastest swims of his life to claim a surprise national title at the ASA Summer Championships, in Sheffield.

The 14-year-old took a stunning win in the 50m butterfly final to become Melton Swimming Club’s first national age group champion in more than 40 years.

Having missed out on a place in the 100m final by a fraction of a second, Graham stormed back over the shorter distance, lowering his personal best twice in a day, by almost one-and-a-half seconds.

He said: “I was hoping to get into the final in both, but me and my coach weren’t expecting any podiums or medals.

“I didn’t know I had won because I put my head down for the last five metres.

“It felt really good. I just turned around and looked up to mum and dad.”

Mum Sara added: “We thought Will might get into the final, but it was just brilliant. It was a very emotional day!”

Graham started swimming competitively at Melton just five years ago and now trains six days a week.

This regime includes three 5am alarm calls and in the run-up to the championships he was swimming 30,000 metres every week.

He was eager to pay tribute to his coaching which persuaded him to rebuff invitations from other clubs and stay loyal to Melton.

“I was asked quite a few times to go to City of Leicester, but I decided not to,” he said. “I want to stick with my own club.

“All my coaches have been very supportive. My head coach Graham Boland has taken me to all the open meetings to try to qualify for the nationals, and all the coaches have done extra bits for me.”

The Belvoir High School pupil missed out on qualification for the 100m butterfly final by just five hundredths of a second, finishing 11th quickest in the heats.

But he made amends three days later as he clocked the quickest time in the morning 50m heats with a new personal best of 28.08secs.

Graham and his parents then had to wait almost 10 hours for the final, but it had no ill effect on the Waltham swimmer who lowered his PB to a fantastic 27.71secs to claim a stunning gold medal.

He added: “I had recently been trying to pick up my stroke rate because it’s only a 50m race so I tried to do that in the warm-up and got a few sprints in.

“Before the nationals I was ranked 28th in Britain, but that time puts me up to ninth. Hopefully it should help me get funding.”

The time was also good enough to break the all-time Melton Swimming Club record for any age group.

Melton Swimming Club chairman Alison Boland said: “We are delighted for Will on his success at the ASA Summer National Championships which is down to his hard work and determination during his training sessions and competitions.

“I would also like to thank all of the coaches and volunteers at the club who have supported Will.”

Earlier this season, Graham reached seven finals at the Midlands Age Group Championships, but his lack of a medal acted as a spur for the national finals.

He will look to take this momentum into the national shortcourse championships at the end of the year.

He added: “I kept getting fourth and fifth places and was slightly off a medal so I knew I had to step up my training.”