STUDENTS found themselves in at the deep end after an Olympic swimmer waded into a North-East school to inspire pupils.
Former Team GB breast-stroker Chris Cook spent time in the newly refurbished pool at Darlington School of Mathematics and Science (DSMS) before addressing a full assembly of 500 pupils.
The 50m and 100m Commonwealth Games gold medal winner also competed in the Olympics in Athens and Beijing. He now works as a sports ambassador for Sky Sports.
After training a squad of DSMS swimmers for an hour he formally opened the newly refurbished pool which has just undergone a £100,000 facelift and features the school badge on its white lining.
Chris, who is originally from South Shields, told students he learned to swim when he was three and joined his first club when he was nine.
“I am just a normal guy and my friends laughed when I said I wanted to become an Olympian,” he said.
“I was up at 4.30am every day training, 25 hours a week in the pool, six in the gym and was accused of putting my swimming above friendships.
“But I believe it is right to set goals and dream big. Success is about fulfilling your own potential.”
Swimming remains an important part of the PE curriculum at DSMS and the pool is also used by neighbouring primary schools of West Park Academy and Mount Pleasant School.
The facility is used as part of the enrichment programme for sports such as kayaking and life-saving training.
It is also used by Amateur Swimming Association clubs and in the future the academy hopes to develop the pool for greater community use.
Head teacher Calvin Kipling said: “The sports programme for schools promotes activity and engagement and is proving to be great motivation for our students, helping them understand success is about effort and application.”