Great Britain international Frankie Docking-Smith says learning to swim at Delamere Academy laid the foundations for his stunning rise in the world of water polo.
The 16-year-old is a former pupil of the Stoney Lane primary, where huge importance is placed on teaching children to swim.
Frankie, who has been selected to represent Great Britain at the European U17 Water Polo Championship Qualifiers in Slovenia later this month, says learning to swim at a young age inspired his love of the water.
Now a national-standard freestyle race specialist, the Hoole teenager is taking his water polo career to the next level.
Frankie said: “I think it is really key to learn to swim, it’s an important life skill, and being able to do that at primary school really set me up well.
“I just instantly loved it. I’ve always found the repetitive movements relaxing, even when you’re working hard.
“So whether you always have a clear goal in mind like I do, or you’re just doing it for fun, it’s a positive, healthy activity and it’s a shame some schools don’t take it seriously enough.”
Research conducted by Swim England and a group of MPs has warned that the majority of primary school children will be unable to swim a length of a pool by 2025.
But pupils at North West Academy Trust schools like Delamere Academy start swimming lessons at reception age or Year 1, and well over 90% can swim at least 25m by the time they leave – and often much sooner.
That has paid dividends for Frankie, who is the youngest member of a squad of 15 after coming through a demanding selection process.
He will line up against Russia, Romania, Slovenia and Austria between June 24-27 as Team GB fight for a place in the rescheduled European U17 Water Polo Championships in Malta during September
Frankie, who swims for City of Chester SC and plays water polo for Liverpool-based Bridgefield, added: “I was a bit surprised but really happy to be selected.
“The best moment was ordering the GB kit online, that’s when it started to sink in a bit. It’ll be a really proud moment when I represent the country for the first time, and I’d love to score a goal – I’d be absolutely buzzing!”
Delamere Headteacher Julie Clayton said: “We delighted for Frankie and so proud of his international call-up. We will be cheering for him and his GB teammates from afar.
“Not everybody can become a superstar swimmer or a water polo player, but we firmly believe that everybody should be taught to swim from a young age because we see first hand the health, fitness and confidence benefits that pupils gain from it.”