KATHLEEN Dawson will enter the Olympic pool in Tokyo grateful for the grounding she was given at Warriors of Warrington Swimming Club.

The 23-year-old former Great Sankey High School student will tackle her 100m backstroke heat on Sunday on the high of becoming British and European record holder at the European Championships in Budapest, Hungary, in May.

Stirling University sports studies student Dawson has highlighted her family and her former Warriors coach Darren Ashley as the influences on her career so far.

“I told her from the age of nine or 10 that she was more than capable of going to the Olympics which is something I don’t say to a lot of children, as awful as that may sound,” said Warriors chief Ashley.

“Her athletic ability was above other children.

“When she came to us when she was little we tried to give her the grounding so she could eventually go into whatever event she was good at, because we obviously didn’t know when she was nine or 10 what she was going to do.

“A that age she was doing all strokes. It was only when she was 15/16 that she really did any backstroke. Up until then her backstroke was mediocre to be fair.

“But she was highly skilled from an early age, which was something that we focused on. We focus on that for all the kids to give them those skills that if they do come through at 15/16 they have the skills to compete at the highest level.”

Her journey to the top of her sport has had its dark days, including recovering from an anterior cruciate knee ligament injury in 2018 that would have finished some athletes.

“From the 2016 Europeans she never did a best time up until this year, so you’re talking five years of nothing,” said Ashley.

“For some people they’d have dropped out of the sport I would imagine in five years of not doing anything.

“I think it’s strength of character and her parents, in their support.

“In sport there’s a lot more hard times than good times. And I think her strength and resilience as a character have brought her through the other side.

“Too many people think that every day is going to be a good day and in sport most days are bad days, there’s very few good days apart from when you win the ultimate medal I suppose.”

She is due in the pool just after 11am (UK time) on Sunday, with semi-finals to follow around 3.50am Monday and final at 2.51am on Tuesday. Her relay events will follow from July 29-31.