A RECORD 16 pupils from a Corfe Mullen school will be battling for glory after qualifying for national swimming and biathlon finals over the next few weeks.

Four of the Castle Court youngsters have made it through to the Independent Association of Prep Schools’ national swimming finals at Crawley, Sussex, on May 10.

Ella-Rose Bowman, 11, and 13- year-old Ben Samuel will compete in the 50m freestyle, Rachel Ko, 11, in the 50m breaststroke and India Still, 12, in the 50m backstroke. All four qualified through regional heats at Sherborne in February.

They were among more than 4,000 children involved in the local rounds across the country.

Samuel, Rose-Bowman and Ko are also among 14 Castle Court youngsters heading for the recently reopened Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London this weekend for the National Schools Biathlon finals.

The other 11 are 11-year-olds Max Duffield, Freddie Pryce, Josh Jack, Baden Davies and Freya Evans, 10-year-olds Conor Charlwood, Lloyd Armstrong, Geen Allen, Jemima Carter and Hester Mugford, and Charlotte Brook, aged nine.

The modern biathlon consists of a separate swim and run for each age group with the distances varying according to age.

It is the fourth year running that Castle Court pupils have qualified for the biathlon finals but 14 is the highest number of qualifiers so far.

Headmaster Richard Stevenson said: “This is the largest squad we have sent to the national biathlon finals and the largest number of individual finalists we have sent to the IAPS swim finals.

“We have a very strong swim programme here at Castle Court, which is helped by our links with Swim Bournemouth.

“The early morning swim sessions that our children attend at Canford are now really paying dividends.”

Castle Court’s director of sport Nick Robinson added: “Last year, our squad of eight came back with six medals.

“As a relatively small prep school, to have such a strong representation at a competition that started with over 10,000 children at the regional heats is testament to the hard work that all have put into the swim and run training programme.

“The specialist coaching that the children are receiving in both athletics and swimming is clearly the best in the region. Our results speak for themselves.”

Castle Court’s biathlon national finalists (pictured l-r) Lloyd Armstrong, Geen Allen, Freddie Pryce, Josh Jack, Baden Davies, Ben Samuel, Jemima Carter, Charlotte Brook, Hester Mugford, Freya Evans, Ella-Rose Bowman and Rachel Ko. Not pictured: Max Duffield, Conor Charlwood