SEVEN-YEAR-OLD Oliver Saunders is celebrating national recognition after being named as Young Swimmer of the Year at the Amateur Swimming Association Swimtastic Awards.
Saunders, who goes to Horningsham School on the Longleat estate, was honoured at a glittering Oscar-style ceremony at the Ponds Forge International Centre, rubbing shoulders with British swimming stars such as Ellie Simmonds, Hannah Miley and Kerri Anne Payne.
Saunders, who is a member of Frome Swimming Club, was nominated for his prestigious award by his swim teacher Simone Benhayon after becoming the youngest child in the country to complete the Aspire Channel Swim last year.
The youngster, who lives in West Woodlands, near Frome, raised over £1,200 for people with spinal injuries by swimming over 100 lengths a week on his way to completing 22 miles, the equivalent of the English Channel.
“It was awesome,” said the award-winning swimmer.
“I got to wear Ellie Simmonds’ gold medals and to swim with her and other Olympians.
“They were all very friendly and we had really good fun.”
Mum Karen added: “I think that it was a bit of a shock for him to win the award but it’s such a nice bit of recognition for him.
“It was a really glamorous ceremony and he even got to have a swim with some of the famous swimmers before the awards, which I know he really enjoyed.
“When he first started swimming, he was just a natural and he would just do so many lengths when you let him go – his brother Finley, nine, swims too.
“Doing the Channel swim was something that he really said he wanted to do and it was an amazing achievement for him and I think it’s what made him stand out.
“He was doing something like 118 lengths a week and I set up a blog for him that was being followed by some Olympic athletes, like Hannah Miley – it was brilliant.”