Tokyo 2020: Sporting scholar Tom Dean grateful for University of Bath support in and out of pool ahead of Olympic swimming debut
Dean first came to the University in 2018 to combine training full-time with the world-renowned British Swimming National Centre Bath, based on campus in the £35million Team Bath Sports Training Village, with studying Mechanical Engineering.
He deferred his second year to concentrate fully on qualifying for the Olympics, only for the Games to be postponed for 12 months due to the Coronavirus pandemic, but the University allowed Dean to defer again for the 2020-21 academic year while continuing to support him through a Bill Whiteley Sporting Scholarship.
That has reaped dividends with Dean, coached by David McNulty, securing Olympic qualification and heading to Tokyo as the second-fastest man in the world this year in the 200m freestyle and part of a GB relay squad with eyes firmly on the podium.
“I think we’ve got a real fighting chance out in Japan,” said Dean, who won six medals at this summer’s European Championships in Budapest. “I think British Swimming is so strong, we showed that at the Europeans a few weeks ago by coming back with a massive medal haul, and I think it’s going to be pretty special in Tokyo.
“Training has been going really well. We have squeezed everything we can out of the last few weeks in Bath before tapering down and resting for the big competition.
“It’s starting to get to crunch time and it’s exciting. This is my first Olympics. It’s been a dream of mine to be an Olympian and represent Team GB for as long as I can remember. I think it’s going to be even more exciting to be part of a unique Olympics that will be unlike any other, I can’t wait.”
Dean is one of nine Bath-based swimmers in the Team GB squad for Tokyo and is proud to be representing his adopted city on the global stage.
“Coming to train and study at Bath was a no-brainer for me,” he said. “There are very few universities in the UK or even the world where I would be able to train in such great facilities and also study the Mechanical Engineering course I wanted to do. Both of those coming together in such a beautiful city, there was nowhere else that even crossed my mind and it has worked out really well for me.
“I took a year out of my studies for the 2019-20 Olympic season, to focus all my time and energy on training for Tokyo 2020. Unfortunately it was postponed for a year but I was able to put back my return to studies for another year and fortunate enough that the University has supported me throughout that period.
“That backing from the University was a massive, massive help and continues to be. I’m one of the sporting scholars here and knowing that support network is there, all the services that the University offers, has given me a great deal of confidence and allowed me to focus purely on becoming the best performer I can be.”
Dean, who begins his 200m freestyle competition on the opening Sunday of the Games (25th), is not the only University of Bath sporting scholar competing at the Tokyo Olympics this summer with fellow Team GB swimmer Anna Hopkin, judoka Prisca Awiti-Alcaraz, hurdlers Cameron Chalmers and David King, and modern pentathletes Joe Choong, Kate French and Jo Muir all having benefited from scholarship support while combining study and sport at Bath.