HGS student crowned fastest 12-year-old swimmer in England

August 8, 2023

Autum Claxton 1 Edited

On Wednesday 2 August, Oldham Hulme Grammar School student Autum Claxton swam the 200m freestyle at the English Nationals, participating in the 12/13 category.

After giving her all in the finals, she achieved a personal best result and became a Bronze English Champion in the U13 category by finishing in 2:13:64.

This result also meant that Autum was crowned the fastest 12-year-old swimmer in England.

Here is Autum’s full account of the exciting event, in her own words:

“Before the race I felt very nervous and anxious because competing at this level was quite daunting. To qualify for the English I needed to be within the top 20 fastest 12/13, but being only 12 made it quite a challenge, so when I qualified it was an amazing feeling.

“The event was at Ponds Forge International and it’s not a pool I’m familiar with, so on the day I did feel overwhelmed. Walking in to see all the national banners and having to wear a special lanyard for scanning was all different to the normal race conditions I’m used to.

“I wasn’t really expecting to make the final out of the heats as I wasn’t the fastest qualifier, but I just tried to believe if I could make the final 10 then that would be amazing. When the results came, I was shocked but extremely happy. It was like a dream to come this far.

“There was no pressure or expectation for the final, but deep down I do always feel pressure to do well because sometimes it’s just expected that I will. I wanted to do my best for everyone especially my family and club but to prove to myself I could do it.

“Going into the final I was the 8th fastest, so my personal goal was to beat that. I listened to advice from my coach about learning from the first race and applied those changes.

“Being announced as a finalist and standing on the block, the adrenaline helped me to start the race good and finish strong. Looking up at the boards after touching the wall was the most amazing feeling I’ve felt so far in the sport. I fist bumped the air looking to my family and coaches as if to say – I did it! I’d just earned myself a 3 second personal best, and a bronze medal as an English national. I was 3rd place U13 but the fastest 12 year old in the 200m freestyle at nationals.

“It was the proudest moment receiving my medal and I felt my long term dreams of becoming a top swimmer were finally realised.

“I make so many sacrifices, from early morning training, to missing out on breaks, days out, and parties. I get tired a lot and train almost daily, sometimes twice daily.  Winning that bronze makes those 5am training sessions worth it.

“I’m now on rest for 4 weeks so it was a great finish to the swim season. Next I plan to train to achieve a gold in my own age category at the English in more events. I hope to qualify for British Championships and maybe move over to international competition. The competition at this level is quite hard but hopefully over the coming years I will achieve my ultimate dream of competing at European Championships, or even higher!

“I’m very lucky that all my clubs support me. I thank Dolphin Academy, my first swim development team, and my two current clubs, who both still now support and help me to reach my full potential: Chadderton ASC swimming club and Stockport Metro swimming club. I also thank my school Oldham Hulme Grammar for making allowance to help me progress.”

Anita Claxton, Autum’s mother, added: “To say we are proud is an understatement.”

Well wishes and congratulations flooded in from staff, parents and Hulmeians alike, testament to the hard work and dedication shown by Autum throughout her time at OHGS and at the Swimming Clubs.