Swimming Champ Makes Waves at International Contest

September 16, 2014

Breaking your toe might mean a few days’ rest for most people. But one determined Monmouth School boy refused to let even a broken bone stand between him and sporting glory in the pool.

Dedicated swimmer Shaye, 12, fractured his big toe in a gym class two days before the Welsh Summer Nationals last month.

But despite the painful injury, he won gold in the 1500m, 100m backstroke and 50m backstroke, silver in 200m backstroke and 200m freestyle and bronze in the 400m freestyle in his age range.

He even smashed a couple of records in the process.

Shaye, who won a sports scholarship to Monmouth School a year ago, said: “It really hurt when I broke my toe – I was on crutches for a day.

“It was nerve-racking racing with it, but I just set my mind in the right place and forgot about it. It was so much of a relief to win, it was just amazing.”

The open meet, spread over seven days in Swansea, attracts thousands of competitors from all over the world.

There were eight boys in each of Shaye’s races, with every event having roughly 15 heats before the final race.

Shaye, from Newbridge, trains for around 14 hours a week and was one of the very few Welsh swimmers to compete in each of the finals.

He added: “I love the sport in general – it keeps me going in life.

“Training gives me a good release from stress.

“In the future I want to get to the Commonwealth Games and then the Olympics.

“I want that more than anything.”

Shaye’s love of the water began when he was just three-years-old, and had lifeguards in his local pool rather worried at times.

His mother, Rachel, said: “He was always like a little fish.

“He spent more time underwater than anywhere else.

“Shaye always liked to be sat at the bottom of the pool.

“The lifeguards went in to rescue him four times.

“I had to ask them to stop going in after him eventually.

“He’d stay under for ages, it made the lifeguards quite nervous I think, but I told them ‘he just likes being there’.

“Nobody else could reach the bottom at that age.”

Also mum to Mason, 10, and Chaymee, seven, Rachel helps Shaye to achieve his goals by getting him to the pool at 6am for training sessions and 5.30pm for evening swims.

She added: “Swimming is what he loves.

“I pulled back on the morning sessions when he started at Monmouth to give him a break, but he was going bananas.

“He said ‘mum don’t ever do that to me again, I need to be in the pool.’

“He never moans about it when it gets hard.

“His coach always says he is the perfect person to train because there’s no limit to what she can ask of him – he’s willing to have a go no matter how hard it gets.”

Shaye has to eat thousands of calories a day to fuel his demanding regime.

“In a training session he will swim up to 4,500 metres,” Rachel said.

“There’s only him and one other boy in Wales up to the same standard.

“I’m very proud of him because he does really put the work in.

“It was fabulous when he got his sports scholarship.”

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