Swim star Jonny Booth has had a big boost as he counts down to the Paralympic Games in Rio.
Jonny, 18, of New Mill, has won a national student award for his efforts in combining his studies with top level sporting competition.
The Borough of Kirklees swimmer qualified for the British team for Brazil with a personal best in trials in April.
And now he has been honoured as Student Performer of the Year in the AoC College Sport Awards 2016.
Jonny was nominated by his teachers in the Department for Sport at Huddersfield New College in Salendine Nook.
His success came out of the blue and Jonny said: “It was something I just wasn’t expecting. It’s great and couldn’t have been timed any better.”
Jonny will go to London for a training camp with the Team GB at the end of August before competing in the 400m freestyle in Rio in early September. In all he will be away for three weeks.
Jonny, a category S9 Paralympic athlete, has Charcot-Marie-Tooth, a degenerative leg condition.
He learned to swim when mum Ann took him to Holmfirth Swimming Pool from the age of four. Before he was 10 he was taking part in competitions.
Jonny found a talent for swimming and has been taken under the wing of Mark Lappin, head swimming coach for KAL Swim Performance.
Jonny left Holmfirth High School and moved to New College to take a BTEC in Sports Coaching Development and Fitness.
The college allows students to fit their lessons around training and Jonny blossomed in and out of the pool.
Jonny has morning and evening training sessions at the new Huddersfield Leisure Centre, getting up at 4.30am five days a week to be in the water at 5.30am.
In an hour and 45-minute session he will swim around 240 lengths.
After that it’s off to college for a full day followed by evening training five nights a week. Somehow he also fits in gym sessions too. Sunday is his only day off.
Jonny said: “College has been brilliant allowing me to fit it all in and I’m now looking forward to Rio.”
Jonny had the Paralympics in Tokyo in 2020 as his aim and his call-up has come four years ahead of schedule.
“Tokyo was always the aim but I knocked three seconds off my personal best to qualify,” he said. “It was a shock because I didn’t think it was as fast as it was. I never dreamed of doing that.
“I’m excited and nervous but it’ll be a great experience.”
Coach Mark isn’t putting any medal pressure on Jonny and said: “I don’t like to talk about medals. I talk about process. What’s important is that Jonny learns what it’s like to be an Olympian with the rules and responsibilities that go with it, and take that forward to Tokyo.
“Jonny can be as good as he wants to be. He works incredibly hard and is a joy to coach.”
Jonny’s success in the awards was part of a double for New College. Reece Purcell, 18, of Slaithwaite, on the same course as Jonny, received the Inspirational Student of the Year award.
Reece, a keen rugby league player, was always in bother at Colne Valley High School and by his own admission “couldn’t sit still.”
But in sport at New College he found what he was looking for and he’s proved a real ambassador for the college putting in 700 hours of voluntary work this year.
“I was over the moon and buzzing when I found out I’d won it,” said Reece.
Teacher Jo Caton said of the four AoC awards two had been won by New College students.
“Both Reece and Jonny have worked very hard and are really deserving of these awards,” she added.