A DISABLED 13-year-old swimmer is getting one step closer to his dream of representing England in the paralympics.

Zack Sturgess is now glowing with four gold medals - making him an official national para champion - after he competed in a prestigious paralympic swimming championship on Saturday.

The swimming enthusiast from Bearwood, who has autism spectrum disorder (ASD), cerebral palsy and a rare genetic disorder called microduplication 22q11.2, once swam 21 miles to raise £200 for Moordown St John’s School when he was nine.

He regularly trains at the pool with the help of competitive swimming team Swim Bournemouth.

Now, he has qualified to compete in all of his classification events, having also gained two silver and one bronze medal over the weekend at the national junior para-swimming championships in Sunderland.

Mum Deby Sturgess told the Daily Echo: “Zack’s dream is getting ever nearer especially after competing at the national junior para-swimming championships in Sunderland last weekend.

“He trains with Swim Bournemouth and his dream is now within reach thanks to his dedicated coach Sharon Abley and the rest of the team at the club who continue to help him achieve his goal even with his physical and mental disabilities.”

She said he was born “extremely premature” and then saved a swimming pool that he “loved dearly” when he was older.

Deby added: “His dream is to represent his country at the paralympics.”

Zack had also qualified for the international pre-Tokyo Paralympic meet - due to be held in Sheffield next month - which has now been cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.