Graduation success for Olympic swimmer

Commonwealth medallist and Olympian Andrew Willis will graduate with an undergraduate masters degree in Chemical Engineering on Thursday 2 July (12.30pm) at Bath Abbey.

Andrew has combined his studies (Master of Engineering in Chemical Engineering) with training at British Swimming’s National Centre for Swimming at the University’s Sports Training Village.

He competes in 100m and 200m breaststroke, and took Bronze in the 200m Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in July 2014.

Andrew made his Olympic debut at London 2012, reaching the 200m breaststroke final where he finished eighth.

He just missed out on the medals at the 2013 World Championships in Barcelona, finishing fourth in the 200m breaststroke final, a repeat performance of his finish at the Delhi 2010 Commonwealth Games representing England.

Andrew’s weekly schedule has consisted of 10 swimming sessions, three gym sessions, plus additional training, alongside his lectures, tutorials and other degree work.

Speaking about his time as a student, Andrew said: “It’s the end of an era. I joined the University and the swim team here back in 2009. I’ve received tremendous support from my Department, which has enabled me to combine my swimming with attaining a masters degree from one of the most prestigious Universities in the country.

“I’ve also been fortunate to be the recipient of a British Swimming National Training Centre Scholarship, which has enabled me to attend overseas camps and competitions.

“I’ve loved every minute of it but now it’s time to focus on my training. I love being in the Sports Training Village and being surrounded by so many great athletes, there is a real buzz here.”

Andrew’s next goal is his third World Championships, which take place in Kazan at the beginning of August, where he will compete in the 200m Breaststroke.

Andrew added: “Next year is Olympic year and the focus is on qualifying for Rio. We have just opened a fantastic facility at Bath. The newly-refurbished £1.6million London 2012 Legacy Pool is an amazing facility with a state of the art filming system, and with all the support staff there is no better place to be.”

Stephen Baddeley, Director of Sport at the University, said: “Andrew has been a wonderful ambassador for the University of Bath during his time as a student. He is a shining example of how the University supports elite sportspeople through the Dual Career programme. To be able to combine studying for a Chemical Engineering degree with reaching Olympic, World and Commonwealth finals is no mean feat but Andrew has shown tremendous commitment and dedication to succeed on both an academic and sporting front.

“Andrew will of course continue to train at the Sports Training Village with the British Swimming National Training Centre and it is great that he will remain a familiar face around the University, while continuing to represent Bath with great distinction on the international stage. We wish Andrew all the best in his future professional and sporting endeavours.”

Dr Tim Mays, Head of the Department of Chemical Engineering said: “We are incredibly proud of Andrew’s successes. He is an inspiration to students (and staff) in managing the two demanding worlds of academic excellence and international sporting achievements so effectively. It has been a privilege to support Andrew to allow him time to follow his swimming ambitions. All of us in Chemical Engineering wish Andrew the very best for his future career, in and out of the pool.”

Andrew is one of around 2,500 students and eleven honorary graduates who will receive awards at eleven graduation ceremonies over the course of three days.

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