The head boy of Grantham King’s School was honoured at the Lincolnshire Sports Awards last Thursday night.
Swimmer Oliver Bitowt was among around 400 who were in attendance at the annual ceremony at Lincolnshire Showground, with prizes awarded by TV’s John Inverdale.
Oliver picked up the Young Sportsman of the Year Trophy after another exceptional year of competition, which culminated in his first Great Britain call-up for the England Talent Camp, competing in the French Open Water Cup during the summer.
The seventeen-year-old has been part of the British Swimming Talent programme for five years. He has focused on freestyle and long distance swimming for the last two years. He won a gold medal at the Midlands Regional Championships 2km race and a silver at the National Open Water competition.
Oliver had been a regular competitor and medallist at county, regional and national level since he was nine.
He stepped up to a new level of competition with his first forays into open water and distance swimming. And yet again he proved his ability and competitive edge with medals in his first season in open water.
Oliver said: “I found I excelled at longer distance swimming in the pool at Lincoln Vulcans. When the opportunity came up to try open water swimming, I gave it a go. I really enjoyed it and I’ve been grabbing every opportunity since.
“I find open water swimming very unpredictable, which is what I enjoy. There are so many obstacles, both mentally and physically, and you don’t know how the race will take shape until you’re taking part.”
Oliver’s dedication is all-consuming, with eight or more sessions a week with 5am starts in the mornings. But the early starts are no deterrent to him and he continues to be a hugely popular and inspirational figure in the Lincoln Vulcans swimming club.
l Also honoured at the awards was volleyball player Alex Hutchinson in the same category as Oliver. Three times Olympic archer Simon Terry was a finalist in the Sportsman of the Year category, and 65-year-old Lincolnshire Basketball Association stalwart was recognised for his dedication in the Lifetime Achievement Award, in which he was a runner-up.
Lincolnshire County Netball was named County Sports Organisation of the Year, for which Grantham Fenland’s Louise Key is development officer and Robyn Rogers is vice-chairman of the management board.