This week, Year 5 pupils interviewed Olympic athlete, Robin James Francis, who is currently the swimming coach and PE teacher at Westonbirt Prep. Before joining Westonbirt School, Francis swam for Great Britain for over ten years, competed at the Olympics, represented his country and medalled in the World and European championships.
During the ‘Press Conference,’ fascinated pupils quizzed Mr Francis on what it was like waiting for the start gun to go off, what his tactics were during the Olympics, and how it felt to compete in his inaugural Olympic races. Year 5 also enjoyed looking at Mr Francis’ medals and hearing stories about the famous closing ceremony.
Always upbeat and popular among Westonbirt pupils, Mr Francis was delighted to inspire the next generation of sports men and woman but also keen to communicate the message that; “The Olympics was my thing, and it was fantastic, but you can all achieve great things too, in whatever field you may choose.”
Born in South Africa, Mr Francis almost drowned at the age of three and it was this dramatic experience that prompted his parents to arrange swimming lessons. What started as swimming for survival, turned into an Olympic career. Soon after his family moved to England and Francis met the caretaker at his local pool who turned out to be Olympic swimmer, Peter Kendrew. From there his real passion for swimming began.
At the age of 19, Mr Francis, broke his first British record, won the European Silver medal, and swam the fifth fastest time in history, ranking him second in the world. Throughout his 14-year career, Robin also held multiple senior British records in both medley events and one stood for over six years. He was a two-time European silver medalist and world silver medalist in the 400m medley and swam as part of the men’s 4×200 relay team in the World Championship final.