Written by Anna Burdyszek
With thanks to the St John’s Opportunities Fund, I have been able to continue training as a member of Durham University Swimming Club in my final year at Durham alongside my academic commitments. Such funding has allowed me to continue representing the university at the British Universities and colleges sports championships (BUCS).
Having started my swimming career at the age of 11, swimming competitively for the last 10 years at national and international level has been both a privilege and formative experience. With the support of countless individuals, I have been lucky enough to medal at the 2017 Winter National championships in the women’s 4x200m Freestyle relay amongst other individual and team achievements. Therefore, joining Durham University Swimming Club (DUSC) in my first year seemed a natural step and has proven to be one of the most enriching experiences during my time here at Durham University.
Being a member of the team for the last 2 and a half years has been a wonderful experience, with highly enjoyable and challenging training sessions. However, competing at the Speedo & BUCS Short Course Swimming Championships in 2019 and 2021 in Sheffield as a team has been a fantastic highlight. As a team and with the excellent leadership of club captains, the club has transitioned into a highly competitive team. Despite only running a sprint programme and competing on the same stage as formidable university teams with European record holders and Olympians in their ranks, the team was able to win BUCS points for the first time ever at the 2021 BUCS short-course championships.
Moreover, DUSC has also provided me with the opportunity to engage with the wider local community here in Durham, through the community outreach programme. The programme has allowed me and others to aid visually impaired individuals by swimming with them at the local pool, ensuring all local facilities are accessible and enjoyable for all members of the local community.
Not only has being a member of the team provided magnificent opportunities to continue competing and meeting other like-minded students, but it has also given me the confidence to engage with other sports, both at college and Durham University level. It gave me the confidence to join St John’s Boat Club in my first year, learning to row for the first time with the support of senior members. As a result, I was fortunate enough to be picked as a member of Durham University rowing club’s renowned development squad, rowing for the university in my second year, whilst finely balancing both my academic and existing sporting commitments!
Therefore, I shall greatly miss DUSC after graduating this summer and shall look back fondly on the experiences I have been fortunate enough to have gained as a member during my time here at Durham.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank the wider Johnian community. Specifically, the wonderful catering team at St John’s College who in my first year were kind enough to facilitate my training in the early mornings and late evenings by preparing fantastic, packed breakfasts that I could collect, (much to the amusement and jealousy of my friends in college) as I would have otherwise missed breakfast all together as training often finished after breakfast.
I would also like to thank the wonderful support staff at college, especially Jasmine Baker-Jones, for supporting me in balancing my academic and sporting commitments and making me aware of the St John’s Opportunities Fund itself.
Lastly, I would like to thank the Opportunities Fund for covering the cost of my membership to the team that has been integral to my time at Durham University and has ensured a fantastic end to my time at Durham and an opportunity for which I am extremely grateful.