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Sharley swimmer going for gold at World Championships

Star swimmer Imogen Clark will be going for gold at December’s FINA World Championships in Melbourne, Australia.

But, what you might not know, is that she started her career right here in NE Derbyshire!

Imogen, ranked sixth in the world for 50m breast stroke, started her swimming journey as a toddler in the pool at Sharley Park Leisure Centre.

She joined the Learn to Swim Programme, collecting badges as she went, before being scouted by the head coach from Rykneld Swimming Club. And it wasn’t long before she was asked to join Derventio Excel – Derbyshire’s elite swimming squad.

From there, she went on to achieve a silver medal in this year’s Commonwealth Games and bronze in the European Championships (to add to a silver in the 2018 European Championships). She now hopes to add to her medal tally at the World Championships.

Imogen (23), from Chesterfield, can be found in the pool at Sharley every week and is still a member of Rykneld Swimming Club.

She said: “I personally like training there. It makes me feel like home.

“I can relax there and just be me.”

Sharley has featured heavily in Imogen’s life, from her very first swim as a baby, to the scary moment she had an epileptic seizure as a teenager while in the pool. She also spent two years working as a lifeguard there.

But, life could have taken a very different direction for Imogen, if she had followed medical advice to stop swimming, after a heart condition was initially thought to be to blame for her seizures.

Imogen said: “The scary thing was not knowing.

“They thought at first it was a heart condition and I spent a lot of time at Leeds at the heart specialist.

“Then they said, that’s not the problem, and it wasn’t until right at the end they did a test for epilepsy and that’s when they found it.

“Now I’m on medication and I’ve had no seizures since then, so I’m pretty much able to live a normal life.”

Imogen has the following advice for youngsters wanting to follow in her footsteps: “Definitely have a go. It’s a great life skill to have, knowing how to swim.

“See if you enjoy it and dream big.”

  • For more information about swimming lessons at Sharley Park, Dronfield Sports Centre or Eckington Swimming Pool and Fitness Centre, visit our leisure pages or give the centres a call.

You can find Imogen on Instagram and Twitter.