Kieran Bird: Oxfordshire swimmer eyes Olympic dream

Kieran Bird
The Olympics is the future goal for Kieran Bird

Oxfordshire teenager Kieran Bird hopes to learn from his Team GB call up to the European Youth Olympic Festival.

Bird, who is captain of Bicester Blue Fins Swimming Club, will race in the 100m and 200m butterfly in Georgia.

The 15-year-old has successfully competed at national level since 2013, and is the first from the club to qualify for Team GB.

Bird told BBC Sport: "It's not all about the competing, it's the learning experiences as well."

Bird gained three golds, two silvers and a bronze at the 2014 National Swimming Championships and his qualification for Team GB came after success at the British Swimming Championships in April, when he secured first place in the junior boys' 200m butterfly.

"The Olympics is the main goal for me," said Bird, who recognises the need not to neglect his studies as he prepares for his GCSE exams next year. "You always need a back-up plan," he added.

His current training demands of 10 sessions per week may need to be revised when he approaches the exam period early in 2016, reducing to seven or eight sessions per week.

During the summer period, Bird acknowledges the importance of accessing 50m swimming facilities at Woodgreen Leisure Centre in Banbury.

"If you swim short course too much, you get used to it and you never adapt to the 50m," he continued.

Bird enjoys a range of sports, particularly football, but it is swimming that provides him with his greatest inspiration.

He cites Chad le Clos's victory over Michael Phelps at London 2012 as a particular high point, and feels that is something to aspire to.

Selection for Team GB at the European Youth Olympic Festival has provided Bird with a chance to experience elite level performance. As his first international call-up, he knows he will need to use the opportunity to learn to deal with the demands of an extended competition programme.

While his parents have also travelled to Tbilisi to support him, the teenager was not expecting to have much contact with them. However, he said he was looking forward to "competing against other international swimmers that have the potential to get to the Olympics."

The seven-day European Youth Olympic Festival, at which 3,600 young sports performers will compete in nine sports, runs until Saturday.

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