Kareem set for Egyptian National swimming competition

He leaves his home in Calverhall at 5.30am most days and doesn’t get home until late.

He trains six days a week, swimming 25 miles a week.

But for 13-year-old Kareem El Degwy it has all been worth it - as he is now competing at the Egyptian National swimming Championships for the first time.

The youngster, who is a year nine pupil at Thomas Adams School in Wem, has been given special permission to fly to Cairo for the competition this week.

He said: “I am very excited.

“I do a lot of training and have worked very hard to get here, I love swimming and taking part in competitions here across the UK but this is now another step up.

“I feel like I am ready for it, I am looking forward to the experience.

“I dream to be an Olympic champion, that is what I am chasing.”

Kareem will compete against top swimmers in the freestyle, breaststroke and individual medley competitions.

At 10-years-old he was in the top four swimmers in the country, 5th in the UK for the 1,500 metres and after winning many county races, at 11 years-old he began to compete in the Midlands regional championships.

As a member of Ellesmere Titans swimming club, he trains at Ellesmere College Pool before and after school at Thomas Adams six days a week, his only day off from training is a Saturday.

His latest competition runs from November 18 to 23, having flown to Egypt he spent a few days training with the squad to get used to the water.

Kareem, whose Mum Nicole is British and Dad Ash is Egyptian, has the opportunity to represent either country. He will soon have to decide if he wants to enter the African Junior Championships and Arab Nations Championships, or represent England.

But he has not always been this dedicated to swimming.

Dad Ash said: “For a while he thought he was missing out on doing things with friends, for about eight months he didn’t swim and instead I dropped him off to go and hang out with his school friends in Wem.

“But all of a sudden he felt like he was really missing it and started back again in November last year.

“He came back really well, quicker than his coaches thought.

“They expected it to take a couple of years to get back to the level he is at now.

“I am very glad of that break he had from swimming, it changed his attitude towards the sport, he is so hungry for it, he is working three times as hard as he did before.”

Mr El Degwy, an electrical engineer, quit his job and started his own company in order to accommodate Kareem’s swimming schedule.

Most races across the UK last three days and Kareem has to fit his school work around this.

“He is working with great head coaches, they train the kids to be champions,” Ash added.

“This opportunity to go to Egypt is very exciting, it is good to compete on an international level and see swimmers from other countries.

“We wouldn’t be able to do anything without the school though, they are very supportive and understanding. It has been absolutely fantastic from day one.”

Kareem has been a pupil at Thomas Adams School since 2013.

Senior teacher and head of PE Tom McAleavy said: "Since his time here at Thomas Adams School, Kareem has demonstrated a mature and dedicated attitude towards his swimming.

“He continues to be an ambassador for the PE Department and we wish him all the best in Egyptian National Swimming competition."