A champion teenage swimmer who balanced her studies with 3.45am wake-up calls to travel 140-mile round trips for early morning training sessions before school is celebrating GCSE success.
Ripon Grammar School student Christa Wilson, a member of the elite Newcastle Swim Team, caught up with lost sleep and schoolwork during the 20 hours a week she spent travelling 1,000 miles by car.
Her hard work, both in and out of the pool, has now paid off.
Having competed alongside top swimmers from all over the world to achieve fastest in her category in the 200m butterfly at Glasgow International Meet this year, she has now achieved three 9s, two 8s, three 7s, in addition to an A in further maths - which is still graded under the old letter system - in her GCSEs.
The 16-year-old, from Dishforth, who has her sights set on making it to the Olympics in 2024, said she was delighted with her grades: “I did find it hard to fit all my revision in around training, but the long car journeys helped. I do a lot of schoolwork in the car.”
She has been getting up in the dark to train in the pool for two hours, four times a week - in addition to four two-hour after-school swim sessions and gym training – since she was 13 years old.
She said: “There are a lot of late nights and early mornings, but I enjoy it. I have never wanted to give up. I’m quite competitive. And all my teachers and school have been very lenient and understanding about my training.”
Christa, who has been crowned county champion for Northumberland and Durham around 20 times, as well as winning numerous medals at national and international level over the years, recently won silver in the 400m individual medley at the English Summer Nationals.
Her mother, Kathryn, said Christa, who learned to swim when she was six months old and began competing from the age of nine, embarking on a gruelling training programme, including very early mornings, since she was 11 years old, had fantastic organisational skills.
“Her teachers have shown support and understanding throughout her time at Ripon Grammar School, ensuring her course work was maintained.
“Thankfully Christa’s dad, Craig, is an early riser and supports her in the early morning sessions. We are very proud parents who have a very dedicated daughter.”
Headmaster Jonathan Webb added: “Christa has worked very hard to achieve superb results, balancing her studies with a particularly demanding sporting schedule. It is gratifying to see how all her hard work has paid off.
The school’s 133 GCSE students are celebrating success this year with 61.6 per cent achieving 9-7 (A*-B) grades and 92.7 per cent of all grades awarded being 9-5 (A*-B).