Tom Daley one of four Plymouth College athletes heading for London 2012
Published: 11 June, 2012
Plymouth College pupil and world diver, Tom Daley, 18, will be
joined by three fellow students at the London 2012 Olympic
Games. Swimmers Ruta Meilutyte, 15, Jamila Lunkuse, 15 and
Jade Howard, 17, will be competing for Lithuania, Uganda and Zambia
While the European 10m diving champion Tom needs little
introduction, Ruta is the third fastest woman in the world so far
this year at 100m breast stroke, Jamila won five medals at the
African Swimming Championships in April and Jade is one of only six
athletes on the Zambian Olympic team.
Despite swimming a time this year that would have won her a
bronze medal in Beijing, Ruta is modest about her expectations for
London. "I would love to make a final but the main thing is
to swim the best I can and get a good time", said Ruta. "I'm
a bit nervous the closer it gets to the Olympics but I am mostly
excited and very proud to be representing my country."
The girls are part of the school's elite swimming programme,
which attracts the top young swimmers from around the world.
The school has its own 25-metre indoor pool but the recent opening
of Plymouth's £46m Life Centre just across the park means that the
swimmers can now train in a state-of-the-art 50-metre pool.
As well, a specialist boarding house at the school provides
specific welfare, dietary, academic and medical needs of the
athletes. The house has its own physio room and teaching
staff visit in the evening for additional academic support.
"I really feel supported at Plymouth College", said
Jamila. "It took me a little while to get used to being so
far away from home but I soon made friends and it really helped
that I was in a boarding house with the other swimmers. We
have a pretty heavy schedule and are in the pool by 5.30 a.m. most
mornings. We don't usually get back to the boarding house
before 7p.m. when I have to do my homework. But the teachers
are really understanding and I am able to get an extra day to hand
things in if I need to."
However, the school's reputation for mentoring and supporting
top athletes goes way beyond the swimming programme and it boasts a
60-strong elite athlete family of day and boarding pupils, which
includes modern pentathletes, fencers, rugby and basketball
players, as well Tom and other divers.
"Everyone at Plymouth College is so supportive," Tom said. "My
teachers have helped me to do as much work as I can when I'm in
school as well as keep in touch with me when I'm away. Sport
is a big deal at Plymouth College and there are lots of swimmers
and other athletes so everyone understands the amount of effort
that has to be put in.
"This year there are going to be four pupils from Plymouth
College at the 2012 London Olympic Games. This is an amazing
achievement for the school but it is also great for Plymouth
because we're quite a small city and to be put on the map like that
is just brilliant."
Plymouth College Headmaster, Dr Simon Wormleighton, concludes:
"To have four athletes from the same school competing in an
Olympics Games is quite phenomenal. The fact that they are
representing different countries really reflects the international
aspect of the school, which has pupils from 15 different nations on
the swimming programme alone.
"It is incredibly important that we do all we can to ensure our
athletes can perform at world level in the sports arena but at the
same time achieve their academic goals. I believe we have
created a unique environment that offers top sports people like Tom
and the girls the flexibility and support to do well in
"But our elite athletes form just 12% of our school community
and the environment in which they thrive translates itself to all
parts of our school. For example, we are very successful in
economics and business studies with the school winning 11 national
competitions in recent years and getting the top mark in the
country at GCSE, A Level and DipFS on a number of occasions in this
subject. Equally, performing arts takes centre stage with a
thriving number of music ensembles and school productions that
would give a professional theatre company a run for its
"Enrichment is the fabric of life here with something for
everyone and we make the most of being in such a beautiful part of
the country with the moorland and coastal landscapes of Devon and
Cornwall close to hand. Our ethos is to embrace individual talents
and to encourage success and instil confidence across a broad
"For now, though, London 2012 is very much at the forefront and
I for one will be avidly watching the aquatics events, taking pride
in the knowledge that Plymouth College has played a massive part in
helping these young athletes to achieve their dreams."