Former swim school pupil, Joe Choong, wins gold at Tokyo 2020

Tokyo Olympics: Modern Pentathlon gold medallist Joe Choong praised by former coach Angela Wilson

We’re delighted the Kent Messenger newspaper has shared just how pleased we are for one former pupil. Here’s some of what they had to say…

A swim school in Dartford is celebrating after one of its former pupils swam his way into the history books at the Toyko Olympic Games.

Joe Choong became the first British male to win an Olympic gold medal in the modern pentathlon on Saturday.

The 26-year-old, from Orpington, recorded a personal best total of 1,482 points across five events – fencing, swimming, showjumping and a combined event of pistol shooting and cross country running – to claim top prize in Japan.

But for one Dartford business owner, watching ex-pupil Joe step up to the podium and collect his medal was almost as exciting as competing herself.

Former Kent County champion and Commonwealth Games swimmer Angela Wilson runs Angela’s Swim School across the town, as well as Gravesend and Medway.

“I was just five years old when I started competing,” she said. “There is no other feeling like winning for your country.”

The school, which teaches from Dartford Girl’s Grammar School and the Hilton hotel by the Dartford Bridge, taught Joe and his younger brother Henry, also a modern pentathlete, in their youth.

Joe, who attended the private New Beacon School in Sevenoaks, started lessons in Dartford when he was just 10 months old and swam with Angela for ten years.

“He showed his talent for swimming from a very young age, earning his 100m swimming distance award aged just five,” she said.

“And, even when he was swimming at a national level ten years later, he returned to the swim school for technique coaching.”

Angela was overjoyed to see Joe put the lessons he learnt in those classes into practice as part of his landmark victory at the Tokyo Games.

“One of the most exciting parts of running a swim school is seeing young people flourish into strong, confident swimmers,” she said.

“We hope seeing Joe become such an outstanding athlete will inspire many more children to join us for lessons and perhaps even choose to follow a career in swimming too.”

But the pentathlete’s success in the pool was no stroke of fortune, she explains.

Through her Swimstylers programme, Angela encourages her students to follow her 6 Ds of learning to swim: “Development, Discipline, Drive, Determination, Dedication and Dream”.

“Swimming teaches you so much about yourself, whether you’re going for gold or to be the best you can be,” she added.

For the complete story head to the Kent Messenger website.

Images courtesy of UPIM Media

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