A Paralympian gold medal winner from Northampton has said she believes the town needs a 50m swimming pool to produce more international champions.
Ellie Robinson, aged 15, won gold in the S6 50m butterfly, and also picked up a bronze medal in the 100m freestyle at the Rio Paralympics.
The Northampton High School student spoke to the Chronicle & Echo at her Northampton Swimming Club homecoming at Moulton College on Thursday.
Ellie, who thanked the National Lottery for supporting her training, said she had been getting up at 4am most days before the Paralympics to travel to a swimming pool in Corby, the only 50m length one in the county.
She said; “I think it would be a good idea to have a new swimming pool in Northampton, especially a 50m pool. At the moment I train at 5am in the morning at Corby so I’m waking up at 4am.
“Somewhere in Northampton to train with a 50m pool, that would be great.”
Jacquie Marshall, director of swimming at Northampton Swimming Club, said the club spent £200,000 a year hiring swimming time at 12 different sites in the county.
She said: “We have nowhere in Northampton we can hold our competitions, there is only Corby in Northants.
“We could not hold a gala in Northampton. We are a swimming club with a Paralympian gold medal winner but we can’t host a gala in our own town.
“We should build a 50m pool to honour Ellie’s achievement. We’ve got Paralympian and international athletes without a 50m swimming pool.”
Reflecting on a whirlwind month in Rio, Ellie said her achievement’s were “still sinking in”.
She said: “I’m still adjusting back to GB time and getting back into the swing of things. It’s been great going back and seeing everyone in Northampton and catching up with my friends.
“I can’t wait to go back to school (Northampton High School) and see everyone.
Northampton Swimming Club has been the biggest part of my swimming career so it is to see these faces
“It was great reading all the messages of support from people in Northampton and so nice people stayed up and watched my races. I really appreciated it.”
Ellie said she had not been expecting to win medals as she had only started competitive swimming three years ago.
She said: “It was always the Olympic Games for experience. My main aim was the Tokyo Games but the medals came early. I was asking all the older athletes ‘if it was your first games what would you do?’. They said ‘enjoy it don’t wish it all away’. That’s what I did
“I had no pressure on me and I didn’t focus on the medals.
“It’s kind of weird and has sunk in more now I am a gold-medal winner now I have got back and seeing everyone. People have been asking to see the medals. I don’t think it will ever completely sink in.”
The teenager said she had bonded particularly well with fellow British swimmer Ellie Simmonds.
Miss Robinson said: “I really bonded well with Ellie. It was nice because she was someone who inspired me way back in London. It was weird swimming next to her. “We have that nice competitive rivalry but as soon as we get out of the pool we are friends again.”