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Student aims for 2022 Commonwealth Games after 15-month pause in competitive swimming

competitive swimming in a pool

@LeedsTrinity Student aims for @birminghamcg22 after 15-month pause in competitive swimming  

A Leeds Trinity University student is aiming to qualify for the senior finals at the British Swimming Championships and the selection trials for the 2022 Commonwealth Games after a 15-month pause in competitive swimming.

Sport and Exercise Sciences student Matthew Gray, from Spalding in Lincolnshire, is making a return to competitive swimming with City of Leeds Swimming Club after competitions were halted due to the pandemic.

21-year-old Matthew, who competes in 50m, 100m and 200m backstroke, has adapted his training programme over the last year which was interrupted due to pool closures. To maintain his fitness levels, Matthew took up running and cycling, completing a solo marathon in February this year. With financial support from the University in 2020, he also bought a pool for the garden which allowed him to continue with specific elements of his training.

Having now returned to his usual training with City of Leeds Swimming Club at the John Charles Centre for Sport, he is currently working towards regional competitions taking place later this year in preparation for the 2021/22 season where he will focus on making the finals in the senior category for the British Swimming Championships and selection trials for the 2022 Commonwealth Games.

In June 2021, Matthew received £500 from Leeds Trinity University’s Inspiring Futures Programme Sporting Excellence Fund to support his training and career as an elite athlete. He’ll use the funding to support training and competition costs, ensuring he is prepared to compete at the highest level while gaining vital competition experience.

Matthew said: “It is amazing to have received this funding from the University which will help me in my endeavours to succeed as a student-athlete. The funding means I don’t have to worry about finding the means to finance training and competitions, so I can be fully focused on achieving my goals.

“Current training is centred around working towards next season with upcoming competitions being a steppingstone towards my goals for the British Swimming Championships and the Commonwealth Games.”

Sarah Todd, Sports Development Manager at Leeds Trinity University, said: “I am really pleased that Matthew is being supported by the Inspiring Futures Sporting Excellence Fund. Matthew’s training and competitions were detrimentally affected throughout the pandemic due to pool closures meaning his club training was cancelled for a large part of the pandemic. It is a testament to Matthew’s character that he has been able to maintain his fitness and his motivation for swimming throughout.”

She added: “I am thrilled the University can play this small part in supporting Matthew in moving forwards in his sporting career now that pools and swimming as a whole seem to be in the post-Covid recovery stage.”

Matthew, who is also part of the national Talented Athlete Scholarship Scheme (TASS), plans to continue with competitive swimming after University while also using his degree in Sport and Exercise Sciences to take the next step as a coach.

The Inspiring Futures Programme financially supports students who want to study abroad or compete in elite-level sport alongside their studies, and recent graduates who want to develop their own business. 

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