During an amazing week last month, London South East Colleges student and swimming sensation, Billy Birchmore won eight individual gold medals at the Downs Syndrome International Swimming Organisation (DSISO) European Championships in Paris, France.
And if that wasn’t enough, he then took to the pool later in the week for Team GB’s relay finals and helped win a further three golds and three silvers to add to his haul. Needless to say, Billy achieved the status as Top Male T21 Swimmer.
The 21-year-old human dynamo from Bickley trains with the Orpington Ojays and Sharks of Mottingham. He practices six days a week to maintain the fitness levels that have seen him achieve a world 100m backstroke record in just 1.15.70.
Billy started swimming when he was 13 years old. He attributes his success to the brilliance of his swimming coach Sergio, the nutritious food prepared by mum Jackie and the inspiration and support from his dad Steve who is head of recruitment at Watford Football Club.
Next month, Billy travels to Mexico for the INAS World Championships and next year will represent GB at the DSISO World Championships in Canada. A further haul of medals at this event could pave the way for him to compete in the 2020 Paralympics in Tokyo.
Returning to College this week, Billy said: “For now, it’s back to concentrating on my college work. I would like to become a swimming coach at a leisure centre one day and that’s what I need to focus on long-term.
“I’m looking forward to my next challenge in Mexico and training hard in the evenings and at weekends. I’m very proud of what I’ve achieved so far and just want to keep winning. It gives me such a good feeling.”
Mum Jackie said: “We are very proud of Billy’s achievements in swimming. At birth, the prognosis was very negative and stated that he may never walk or talk. Over the past few years, Billy has gone from strength to strength and all of his hard work and dedication has paid off with him becoming the overall World Champion in Downs Syndrome swimming.”
Rhona Sapsford is the Assistant Principal for Special Educational Needs and Disabilities. She said: “Billy has become a super hero in the College. He has an amazing attitude to his sport and is very ambitious for his future career. He provides inspiration and encouragement to his fellow students and is a pleasure to teach. We will all be rooting for him next month."