Diggle based swimmer, 22 year old Ben Proctor, is almost certain of being selected to represent Great Britain’s Paralympic team in the 200m freestyle at the 2012 London Olympics.
Ben, who lives with his grandparents in Diggle is currently ranked second fastest, in his class, in the world and recently took the silver medal at this year’s British Gas Disability Swimming Championships held at the Olympic Pool in London.
Selection for the Paralympic team is fairly complex as there are several classes, each covering a variety of differing disabilities. These range from one to ten for the physically disabled, eleven to thirteen for the visually disabled and S14 for individuals with learning disabilities. S14, is the class Ben belongs to and was until 2009 excluded from the competition by the International Paralymic Olympic Committee.
With the reintroduction of the S14 class, Ben has been able to showcase his talent. His times of 2.021 in the 200m freestyle and 1.0545 in 100m backstroke have placed him high in world rankings and his time over 200m currently makes him the second fastest, over this distance, in the world.
Ben started swimming at an early age with Mrs. Bradbury and Mrs. Scowcroft at Diggle Primary School. Brenda Scowcroft said that, “Ben is a very talented swimmer and was winning races from a very early age.” From there he trained with Saddleworth Swimming Club and then joined Oldham Aquatics Swimming Club. During this time, Ben was awarded Oldham and Manchester Disability Sports Personality of the Year. Following this Ben was invited to join the North West disability swimming team and it was here that he was selected to swim for his country.
Since 2005 Ben has been competing on the international circuit which has included swimming in the World Championships, The European Games and The Global Games. He is currently on British Swimming’s World Class Podium. Ben holds three world records and nine British records in the 25m pool and two world records in the 50m pool.
Ben starts training at 6am in the High Performance Centre in Manchester. This is followed by a session in the gym then after a break, he returns to train from 3.30pm-5pm. He maintains this routine everyday apart from Sunday. Ben said, “Since I passed my driving test I have to get myself up in the morning. I’m usually fine but sometimes it can be a real challenge.” Ben has been supported throughout his swimming career by his grandma and grandad, Dilys and Dennis Proctor.
Dilys said, “I want him to be happy and enjoy his swimming. I have every confidence in him and I hope he achieves what he is capable of. Whatever happens we will be very proud of him.”
Ben said, “I want to do well and I would like to stand on the podium with the gold medal.”
He leaves for Majorca next week to start training with the British Team.
Ben will be competing in the 200m freestyle on the 31st August and in the 100m backstroke on the 2nd September.