Record-breaking student Ollie set to compete at the Olympics

Swim Scholar and Sports Coaching student, Ollie Morgan, stunned crowds at the recent British Swimming Championships with a record-breaking swim, securing him a place in the Paris 2024 Olympics. 

We sat down with him to find out more about his training, the behind the scenes of being a student athlete and what he is most looking forward to at the Paris Olympics 2024.

Euro SC Champs

Studying and swimming at UoB

Ollie’s sister, who is two years his senior, studied at Birmingham and so set the tone for Ollie’s interaction with UoB.

He notes, it was the ‘really nice campus’ that initially drew him in and as expected, the 'amazing' facilities at UoB Sport and Fitness were also a big plus.

Ollie’s sister also inspired his love for swimmingas both did swimming lessons as children, but it was her involvement in swimming competitions all-weekend long that enticed Ollie in. Believing there were kids that he could easily beat fuelled his eventual participation in more formal swimming competitions and ultimately fostered his 'love for the sport'.

Being a student athlete 'has its challenges' Ollie notes, but 'the EDCAP scholarship* has been really helpful with changing deadlines when I’m training or I’ve got competitions so it just takes that pressure away'.

Now in his final year, Ollie told us how he’s split this year, due to his aim to qualify, which has additionally alleviated some of the dual pressures of sport and study and meant that he was not limited in his swimming ambitions. This split has 'clearly worked' and was a 'good decision' as seen by his triumph at the British swimming Championships and road to the Paris Olympics!

Ollie notes that the support around him has been 'super helpful' in dealing with the transition from being a regular UoB student to becoming a Swim Scholar. In instances of overtraining or being worn out, Ollie notes 'you’ve got those people there to go to that will support you'. One priority Ollie had was upping his nutrition to 'hit the weights' that he wanted to reach, which he tells us he was able to do with his support network.

On the academic side of things, Ollie remarks that 'it was really nice to see' the flood of messages he received from staff congratulating him after finding out he qualified. Talking about his lecturers and course read especially, Ollie told us 'they have been really supportive' and 'responsive' when it comes to juggling the pressures of deadlines alongside his training.

Ollie Morgan World Champs MineKasapoglu 2

Ollie’s advice to other student athletes

'Yes! Most definitely!' Ollie beamed when asked if he’d recommend UoB for other student athletes. One special thing from the swimming side, Ollie remarks, is 'the enjoyment' that he and his peers enjoy. He tells us, 'we turn up for training and we have fun and push each other'. This is a big motivator factor to work hard since 'you’re training with your best mates' and being led by a team of coaches who 'also want to know you as a person, not just as a number'.

Describing the atmosphere, Ollie likens it to 'a little family that’s really supportive' and has worked well for him, so he can’t see why it wouldn’t work the same for any other athlete looking to join UoB.

When asked about any advice he has for future UoB students, Ollie told us, 'All the staff are there to help you and if you put the effort, they’re going to reciprocate that'. Speaking on his beloved coach, Gary, Ollie notes they have debriefing sessions about what they accomplished in the session as well as plans for the next one. This is the 'difference between someone who performs well and someone who performs amazingly' Ollie points out.

Dedication and commitment, Ollie tells us, are key for any athletes to work on. Both have been imperative, he tells us, for where he is now as a qualifier for the Paris Olympics.

World Champs 1

Paris Olympics 2024 and Beyond

Recalling the moment he found out he qualified, it felt like a relief, Ollie told us. 'All that hard work and all that dedication has come off and to do in a British record was the cherry on top'.

Reflecting on when he finished the race, Ollie recalls 'that huge buzz' he felt. But it was only once it hit him that the relief set in; 'all those early mornings and all those late nights and all those days where you don’t want to get out of bed' but 'still make it to training and push yourself 110% each day' have been totally worth it.

It’s Ollie’s pure unbridled love for the sport that shines through as he notes his passion for the 'pressure of racing' and 'being in front of a crowd'. This enjoyment seems to drive him ultimately.

In terms of what he most looks forward to at the Paris Olympics, 'The first thing is racing, walking out in front of a sold-out crowd is pretty exciting and knowing you’re there with the whole nation behind you' Ollie notes.

Thinking back to watching British athletes at the Rio, Tokyo and London Olympics, Ollie recalls the great support he, as well many as millions of British viewers, have so being on the other side as a competitor is 'pretty special'.

Nervously laughing after being asked how he’d feel about winning a medal, 'I don’t think I could put it into words how it would feel or imagine how it would feel' Ollie tells us. It would simply be 'unbelievable' Ollie remarks.

Being the ultimate goal, Ollie states it’s important to 'have those high aims' and not 'limit yourself'. Having broken an already impressive goal at the British Championships, Ollie looks forward to what more he can do and 'to continue to push things further' especially on the world stage.

When asked about future plans and what’s next in store for him, 'Finish my studies next year' Ollie says first and foremost. But otherwise, he is 'undecided' as he is currently 'living short-term' with the Olympics primarily on his mind. 'We’ll see what happens' Ollie tells us smiling and with the pure dedication and hard work permeating off him, we’ll know he’ll be amazing at whatever he decides to do!

World Champs Post Race

A massive thank you and good luck to Ollie at the Paris Olympics! You have the whole of UoB and the country behind you.

Want to keep up with our student athletes at the Olympics?

Follow UoB Sports and Fitness’ new blog series, ‘Pathway to Paris’, where you can learn more about the role our students, coaches, alumni, and the University will play in this summer’s Olympics.

You can also follow Ollie on Instagram @ollie.morgannn.

*The Elite Dual Career Athlete Pathway (EDCAP) provides sector-leading dual career support and is tailored to the individual needs of our highest performing student-athletes at the University. Find out more about EDCAP.


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