The first of its kind in Bristol, a new elite Swim Scholarship has been launched between Clifton High School and Bristol Sport. With an aim to make elite swimming more accessible through extra funding and bespoke co-curricular education.
The Bristol Sport Swim Scholarship will be awarded to young athletes, giving them the opportunity to marry elite, national-level coaching and first-class schooling.
Bristol Sport Communications Director Lisa Knights said: “We’re delighted to announce this innovative partnership with Clifton High. Bristol Sport’s vision is to put the city on the international sporting map and to help inspire sport in Bristol.”
The first recipient of the swim scholarship programme is Sean Simmons who joins Clifton High in Year 12, from St Bedes; regularly in the top 10 of UK rankings for 50-metre backstroke, 50-metre fly, 100-metre backstroke and 100-metre fly; Sean learnt to swim at the age of six and has been excelling in the sport ever since.
The scholarship is launched alongside a new Complete Swimmer Programme at Clifton High School, a three-step initiative for children from Reception to Year 13 which aims to progressively nurture all Clifton High pupils, from early stages, to swimming enthusiasts and athletes throughout the duration of their time at school. The programme is divided into three sections, each covering a key period of long-term athlete development, accessible for all levels of ability, and a carefully timetabled provision for elite athletes.
To lead the programme, Clifton High has appointed Jez Birds as the School’s new Director of Swimming. Jez, who is an ex-professional swimming athlete, competing for team GB, joins Clifton High from Henleaze Swimming Club where he ran their swimming programme for almost 10 years. As a Swim England Coach Tutor and a Level 4 Strength and Conditioning Coach, Jez’s passion lies in developing athletes of all ages and abilities; from learning to swim through to National Champions.
Jez Birds said: “The wrap-around co-curricular programme aims to allow participants to be a student athlete, with access to national level coaching as well as outstanding education, rather than juggling being a student and an athlete separately.”