Proud to be a member of the
Lincolnshire Gateway Academies Trust
Proud to be a member of the
Lincolnshire Gateway Academies Trust

Libby’s Olympic chance

Olympic swimming trials are the reward for years of dedicated training by a Toll Bar Sixth Form student.

Libby with Principal Nigel Whittle and Head of Sixth Form Christine Hook outside Toll Bar Sixth Form’s new reception.

Libby Munday (17) will compete against the nation’s elite in London for a place in the Great British swimming squad that will travel to Paris in the summer.

The modest student, who specialises in the back crawl over 100m and 200m, is not expecting to make the cut but is excited to have been invited and given the opportunity.

“It is the experience that I am most looking forward to,” she said. “All the country’s elite swimmers will be there and I’ll be able to watch them.

“I’ve been ill so might not be at my best. We will see.”

She will represent Kingston upon Hull Swimming Club at the British Swimming Championships, taking place at the iconic London Aquatics Centre on Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park between 2nd and 7th April.

It will be a long way from when she started swimming at the now demolished Grimsby Swimming Pool on Scartho Road, aged nine.

“I had a trial for Cleethorpes and District Swimming Club at the Lincs Inspire pool and that’s where it started,” Libby said.

“I started to swim competitively and moved up from there. I always enjoyed swimming lessons and being in the water.

“I then found I was enjoying competing. As I got older, I started to specialise. I do swim other strokes in lower competitions but, at the high level, it’s back stroke.”

During the pandemic, when swimming pools were closed like everything else, she set up a “paddling pool” in her back garden.

“I had like this bungee band around my waist and was attached to the fence. So I was swimming without going anywhere.

“I kept it going when the weather was not too cold.”

After the pandemic, local pools in schools reopened slowly and did not offer appropriate times, so she switched to Hull.  

Her training regime is relentless. Morning sessions start at 5am, meaning a 3.40am alarm call.

She car shares with another local swimmer Rio Daodu.

“When it’s our turn my dad usually takes me,” she said. “He’ll drop me off then go and have a sleep in the car!”

Libby, taking A-levels in PE, Biology and Psychology, trains twice on a Monday and Wednesday, once on a Tuesday and Thursday and at home on a Friday. She’s also started training at Sheffield’s Ponds Forge Olympic-size pool on a Saturday.

“I do enjoy the training. Sometimes, it can be tedious when you’re doing the same thing all the time but, when I do well in competitions, it makes it all worthwhile.”

Her proudest moment so far was making the British national finals for the first time in 2019, winning silver in the 200m backstroke.

It was at the same event in 2022 that she made all her finals, something she had not done before.

“It was a shock to get to all the finals because of the rough seasons during Covid when I didn’t train as much.”

In the pool after another successful swim.

She made four national finals last year, one at the British Championship and three at the British Summer Nationals in July, swimming a personal best in the 200m backstroke.

The green light to compete in the Olympic trials came a few weeks ago when, in the English Schools’ Swimming Association’s championships, she landed gold in the 200m and silver at 100m.

It qualified her to represent Team England in the World School Championships in Bahrain but there was disappointment when a lack of funding led to the team being pulled out.

But now her focus is on next week’s trials, when she will be at the same event as the likes of reigning Olympic champion Adam Peaty.

“It is going to be incredibly tough for anybody to get on the team. There is an Olympic qualifying time to make but then there is a consideration time, which will be much faster, because of the strong level of competition.

“In the future, I do want to get to an international competition and represent my country. It’s my last year as a junior, when I reach 18 it all gets a lot harder.”

Libby thanked parents Angie and Simon Munday for their unstinting encouragement and the hours they had put in to support her. They also have a son Connor (20).

She also thanked the Academy for its support, particularly Head of Year 11 Ryan Watson for being flexible during GCSEs.

She does not have to look far for inspiration at the school. Head of PE Amy Pharaoh, who has taught Libby for three years, is a former Commonwealth and world champion in bowls and captained the England team at the World Bowls Championships on Australia’s Gold Coast last year.

Amy said: “We are just so incredibly proud of Libby. She is a great sportswoman, not only a fantastic swimmer.

“I know the level of dedication she has had to show, though I’ve not been training at those times in the morning!

“Things will be happening in her friendship groups that she may feel she is missing out on and to keep that level of motivation can be difficult. But, doing as well as she’s doing, makes it all worthwhile.

“She is a great inspiration for all young children who may be just starting out at a Lincs Inspire pool in North East Lincolnshire. The sport is so accessible.”

Libby with medals won at the English Schools’ Swimming Association’s Championships.

Principal Nigel Whittle congratulated Libby on her success.

“To swim at the Olympic trials is a wonderful achievement and a huge credit to Libby and her supportive family,” Mr Whittle said.

“We are proud to have Libby as a member of our sixth form and support her where we can. We are also excited about what the future may hold and wish Libby all the best in London and going forward.”