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Alumni (OTs)

When Tom met Harry

It came as a great surprise and honour to Squadron Leader Tom Benson and his Navigator colleague Colin Bostrom when they were asked to show a special guest around their fighter jet.

HRH Prince Harry had arrived in Afghanistan for a surprise visit on 9 November 2014, the date of the last operational sortie flown by the Tornado Force.

Tom and Colin spent 15 minutes chatting with Prince Harry who as a fellow pilot was very interested in the jet and their second tour in Afghanistan. He was extremely enthusiastic and clearly showed how knowledgeable he is about RAF operations in the war zone.

Tom, who serves with 31 Squadron at RAF Marham has now returned from Afghanistan, much to the delight of his family and friends.

GB Representative Honours for OT James Wilson

In September 2014, James Wilson received representative honours as he was made Captain of the Great Britain Triathlon Team when they travelled to The Netherlands for the European Long Distance Triathlon Championship. 550 athletes took part in the event, with the Great Britain Squad being made up of 40 athletes representing all age groups.

There was strict qualifying criteria in order to participate and to be eligible for a qualifying place all athletes were required to have completed their nominated race within 120% of the winner in their age group, which James did at Ironman UK 2013.

James’ race involved a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile cycle and 26.2 mile marathon run. Despite the windy and hot conditions James finished a very respectable 9th place, being the 2nd British male to complete the race, out of an overall 31 in his European age group of 30-34.

He was extremely proud to have been made Captain of the squad however says “I am not quite sure why I was selected! I had been quite vocal on arranging training meet ups before travelling to The Netherlands and also arranging socials for once we arrived”!

As Captain, James’ role involved making sure that everyone participating knew where they needed to be across the days of the race weekend, arranging pre-race runs and swims and post-race physio and presentation of awards. He was the main point of contact for the team and was responsible for communication between the team and the organisers.

James first got involved in triathlon in 2011 and happily admits that it “spiralled into an obsession”! James says “I went to watch Ironman UK 2012 in Bolton and said to myself that I would do that next year so I signed up the following day”!

James trains 6 days a week for a total of 15 hours and it took him 11 months to prepare for the European Championship, which also involved being careful with his diet and for the three months preceding the Race, abstaining from alcohol!

James joined Trent College in 2000 in the Sixth Form and says that he loved playing rugby and hockey. He represented the 3rd XV and continued to play rugby beyond his time at Trent. James studied A Level PE and since leaving Trent has returned to the School on several occasions to talk to the Sixth Form students about career choices and sharing his experience of life at university right through to the career he enjoys now as a Capital FM Breakfast Show Producer on the Rob Ellis show.

7 Oceans, a Pod of Dolphins and One Great White Shark

Adam Walker has been the first Briton to complete the Ocean's 7 challenge, a tough series of long-distance, open-water swims, which only four other people from around the world have ever done.

Adam says “I am extremely proud to not only be the first British person to complete the challenge but to have successfully completed each leg on my first attempt”.

Saved from a Great White Shark by a pod of dolphins, Adam Walker’s story is not only fascinating but hugely motivational.

Having had no previous experience of open water swimming or competitive swimming at all, and following a shoulder injury after which he was advised never to swim open water again, Adam became the first British person to complete the Ocean 7 Challenge by swimming the North Channel, the Cook Strait, the Molokai Channel, the English Channel, the Catalina Channel, the Tsugaru Strait and the Strait of Gibraltar.

In 2008 Adam swam the English Channel in under 12 hours and it was at this time that he committed himself to undertaking the full Ocean 7 Challenge, which saw him contend with sharks, jellyfish stings and what turned out to be a lifesaving pod of dolphins.

With each swim Adam became more and more motivated and gained the determination to complete the next. He swam his final leg of the Challenge, a 21 mile stretch from Northern Ireland to the west coast of Scotland, in August this year.

Adam, who attended Trent College from 1989 to 1994, first considered taking on the open water endurance swim during a flight to Australia when he watched the film ‘On a Clear Day’ about a man who, tormented with insecurity, sets out to build his self-esteem and decides to swim the English Channel. Adam says “I thought to myself, I could do that"!

During the challenge, Adam who is 36, experienced many lows as well as highs. He endured motion sickness and evaded Tiger Sharks. On his swim of the Molokai Channel in Hawaii he encountered a school of jellyfish and was badly stung in his face. He also suffered excruciating pain which he says “nearly shot me out of the water” when he was stung by a Portuguese Man o'War. It was during his swim of the Cook Strait in New Zealand that he had the privilege of swimming alongside a pod of dolphins, which he is now convinced were there to protect him from the Great White Shark swimming beneath. The dolphins stayed with Adam for several hours until the Shark had disappeared.

Adam is now using his experience to motivate others and offers himself as a motivational speaker.
He also runs swim camps across the UK and Europe to help prepare those who are undertaking open water swim challenges.

Very conscious of the difference between pool swimming and open water swimming he also aims to raise safety awareness of swimming in rivers and lakes and educating children in swimming in open water. “Stroke technique in a pool is different to open water, in open water you have to adapt to conditions with waves and also cold temperature which can affect your stroke”. Adam continues to raise funds for marine charities which he supported during the Ocean 7 Challenge.

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