It took Level 3 Public Services student, Harry Wellington just three months to classify as a para-swimmer after being diagnosed with Keratoconus, a severe visual impairment.
The 18-year old from Market Lavington took to the sport over the autumn last year after having to give up his true sporting passions, rugby and cycling.
The former Devizes Rugby Club player, who studies at the Salisbury campus, said: “The experience has been life changing.
“From an early age I was classified as a lazy reader but my eyes started to deteriorate rapidly at a pivotal time of my life whilst I was studying for my GCSEs, as I found I was getting tired very easily.
“Over the past couple of years my eyesight has progressively got worse meaning I’ve had to give up playing rugby and cycling.
“My aunt and uncle are strong swimmers and they were the ones who encouraged me to take to the water as the muscles you use in rugby are very similar to those needed for swimming.
“Little did I know I would be changing from playing rugby for my local club to swimming competitively against national athletes.”
Competing in freestyle and butterfly races against top class swimmers from across the globe in just a few months, Harry is now a two-time British Champion and is the sixth fastest para-swimmer in the world.
The results are determined on an athlete’s personal best (PB) as they swim in multi-classification races.
Alongside his full-time course, Harry trains with Salisbury Stingrays at Five Rivers Leisure Centre, swimming eight times a week and going to the gym four times a week for two hours at a time.
Harry added: “I will be competing in the British Nationals in the summer where hopefully I will qualify to take part in the international meet in Mexico and continue to travel around the world with Team GB.
“I have had to face a huge lifestyle change over the past couple of years as simple day-to-day tasks become more difficult.
“I have undergone two eye operations and I know that there is a chance I may become blind one day.
“But through all of that, ironically, it has been eye-opening, a completely different world.
“It has made me more motivated to prove to people that just because I can’t see, I can still do things.
“The support I have had from my parents, friends and classmates and tutors has been amazing, with them all tuning in to watch me compete on TV!”
Harry enrolled on the Public Services course at Wiltshire College Salisbury with the ambition of one day becoming a Marine, which he soon realised would not be possible because of his visual impairment.
He has since been offered a place at the University of Gloucestershire to study Sport and Exercise Science, starting in September, where he hopes to continue his journey as a British paralympian – good luck Harry!