Oundle Groundsman Excels in Down Syndrome GB Swimming Team
15th November 2017

In January, part-time Groundsman at Oundle School, William Roberts (18) was selected to train and compete with the Down Syndrome Swimming (DSS) GB Team. In August, he took part in the GB National Special Olympic Summer Games in Sheffield as part of the Eastern Region Team, winning a gold for the 50m Freestyle with a new PB and a bronze for the 50m backstroke.

William has recently returned from Paris as part of the DSS GB Team competing in the Down Syndrome International Swimming Organisation European Championships where there were eighteen countries and 108 swimmers taking part.

William progressed through all the heats to the finals of the 100m Breaststroke, the 50m Breaststroke and the 100m Individual Medley. He came 7th, 6th and 6th respectively in the European rankings for these races. He also gained four new PBs in his other races and was placed overall 15th out of sixty-one male swimmers in Europe and 19th overall out of 108 swimmers.

William’s mother and Chair of Peterborough Special Olympic Swimming Group (PSOSG), Joh Sydenham commented, “This was a fantastic achievement for William’s first international competition. He started swimming when he was four and needed a little extra help to get him started. The staff at Oundle Otters provided fantastic support and encouragement, literally teaching him hand over hand how to swim.

The games were a great moment for disability sport and provided a message to us all: Having a disability is absolutely no reason not to achieve in life, no reason not to have dreams and follow them, no reason not to win.”

Back in 2015, Head of Grounds and Gardens at Oundle School, Nick Tebbs, invited William to join his team for voluntary work on his non-college days. William expanded on the skills he learnt for his BTEC Land Based Studies Level 1 at Moulton College including learning how to check and use a lawnmower and strimmer and all the safety gear. William continues to do work experience one day a week for the Grounds and Gardens team whilst also attending New College Stamford.

Nick commented, “William’s achievements are amazing.  He is a helpful, enthusiastic and considerate member of the Grounds and Gardens team and we are all so proud of him.”

All the committee members, coaches and other helpers of the PSOSG are volunteers and rely entirely on charitable donations to fund attending galas and to buy equipment for training. The swimmers attend four or five galas a year and every four years they compete in the UK National Special Olympic Games. All help with donations and fundraising are welcome. For further information visit: or contact Joh Sydenham at:

Run through Oundle School Enterprises, Oundle Otters swimming lessons for children are held on a Monday and Friday after School and Saturday mornings. Catering for all ages, including adults, the pool provides various lessons and activities during term time and in the holidays. The pool is open to the public through an annual membership. Full details can be found at or contact 01832 277208.

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