Swimming star Chris Wilson has received no fewer than four academic scholarship offers from American universities – each with swimming high on their agenda – and the most valuable is worth a total of $100,000 off the four-year tuition fee.
Chris, 17, has been a student at Taunton School since Pre-prep and is currently studying A-levels in business studies, geology and PE.
And he has been making a name for himself in the swimming pool by qualifying for this year’s national finals in the 100m butterfly.
Chris is a member of the Taunton Deane club and will also be swimming for them in the national Arena League Final.
He trains for 14 hours a week – starting at 5.45 am on four mornings – in the 25-metre Taunton Prep pool under the guidance of Graham Davidson, who is both the school and Taunton Deane swimming coach.
“It’s a huge part of my life,” said Chris. “I love being around the people I swim with and it takes my mind off the pressures of school and life. I love it in the water.”
Following guidance from Taunton School head of careers, Mr David Hawkins, Chris applied for – and has now been offered – scholarships to study business at Augustana College in Illinois, the University of Indianapolis, Hood College in Maryland and Susquehanna University in Pennsylvania.
“I visited both Augustana and Illinois during half term,” he added. “I liked them both and would be one of the best swimmers in their team if I went there.”
And what are his future targets in the pool? “I’ve just made my first goal by getting the national qualifying time and I’m not looking much further than that. The next step would be to get my Commonwealth Games time and take it from there.”
Chris is looking forward to going to America, adding: “I will be swimming just as much as a I do now and I’m really excited about it – I can’t wait.”
He is also a Section Leader in the school CCF, as well as doing the Duke of Edinburgh award – both of which have been mentioned in his offer letters from the USA because of the leadership skills they develop.
Headmaster, Dr John Newton, said: “Chris has been a sporting star in the school for many years and this is just reward for the hours of hard work he has put in.
“Chris is superbly supported by his family and we all hope this is the start of something very big for him.”
Head of Careers, Mr Hawkins, added: “These universities in the USA were suggested to Chris as being a good match for him, making use of expertise built up at Taunton School about global university options over many years.
“Taunton School has the knowledge to find the best match for students all over the world, looking beyond the few household names.”