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Team GB swimmers celebrate Olympic call-up by swimming with Boris Johnson turtle | Other | sport

Team GB swimmers celebrate Olympic call-up by swimming with Boris Johnson turtle |  Other |  sport


Two Team GB athletes marked their Olympic selection by swimming with a turtle named in honor of Boris Johnson. Artistic swimmers Kate Shortman and Izzy Thorpe, both 23, are hoping to win Team GB's first ever medal in the sport at Paris 2024.

Their campaign began in the unlikely setting of the tropical reef of London's Sea Life Aquarium.

“It’s definitely the rogueliest place I’ve ever swum,” Shortman admitted.

Shortman and Thorpe dove with a variety of species, including batfish and unicorn fish. They befriended the turtles Boris and Dougie, named after the former mayor of London and bassist McFly respectively.

Zebby, the zebra shark, and Football, the puffer fish, were also in attendance, providing a unique experience for the two-time Olympic athletes.

I'm not a big fan of the sea, so it was pretty scary for me, Thorpe said. It was pretty terrifying at first. I'm not sure I'll volunteer again!

Shortman added: It was really fun and a unique experience. How many people can swim in an aquarium?

Few Olympic sports are as grueling as theirs. Shortman and Thorpe train 40 hours a week at the Bristol South pool, working from 8am to 6pm, then staying for video analysis work to correct their mistakes for the next day.

They train gymnastics, practice yoga and spend minutes at a time submerged: Shortman can hold his breath underwater for three minutes.

I can't stress how difficult this sport is, said Shortman, who, alongside Thorpe, is one of more than 1,000 elite athletes in the world-class program funded by the UK Sports National Lottery, allowing him to train full time, have access to the best coaches in the world and benefit from cutting-edge medical support.

Because it's so glamorous, we wear our costumes, it distracts us from the fact that it's a really, really difficult sport.

Thorpe adds: “We were supposed to smile so you couldn’t see the pain. The smile is fake.

The bubbly Bristolians have fueled Games hopes with a string of superb performances in recent years.

Shortman won Britain's first ever World Championships medal with solo bronze in 2023 and the dynamic duo took silver and bronze at February's Worlds to qualify for the Olympics. They also won the test event last week at the Olympic Aquatic Center in Paris.

There are many reasons for this rapid rise: a welcome injection of National Lottery funding, a pioneering new coach in Yumiko Tomomatsu, refreshed mentalities and changes in judgment tilting in their favor.

Is the ambition to win gold? Absolutely! » roared Shortman. I think before, Olympic gold seemed almost unattainable. It was more of a dream than a goal.

Today we are firmly aiming for this and working as hard as possible to achieve it.

National Lottery players raise more than $30 million a week for good causes, including vital funding for sport from grassroots to the elite. To find out more visit: #TNLAthletes




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