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Headstrong young ambition can kill you

A talented young swimmer with dreams of winning gold at the 2012 Olympics died after pushing himself too hard in training.

Luke Jeffrey, 15, drowned after secretly getting back in the pool following his coaching session, an inquest heard. The county-standard swimmer, who was said to be pushing himself to the "absolute limit" to make it to the London Games, is believed to have blacked out while practising underwater lengths.

He was found lying unconscious at the bottom of the pool at the National Fire Service Training College in Morton-in-Marsh, Gloucestershire, by a marshal carrying out a final sweep of the water. His father dived in and brought him to the surface but paramedics we unable to revive him and he was pronounced dead in hospital.

Luke's training partner Christopher Smith told the hearing at Cirencester Magistrates Court that the teenager had blacked out before. "He was desperately trying to get to the Olympics," he said. "Six months before he had tried to swim three lengths underwater, but at the end he just drifted to the side. "I was so worried about him that I dived in and pulled him out. He said afterwards that he felt faint and dizzy. We didn't do that exercise again."

I don't feel that anything out of the ordinary happened to him

On the evening of his death last April, Luke, of Blockley, had already completed between 70 and 80 lengths and stayed underwater for two periods of two minutes. His father, Mark, 39, who runs the local swimming club, said his son had not told him of his previous blackout. "He used to push himself to the absolute limit, but I don't feel that anything out of the ordinary happened to him," said Mr Jeffrey.

However, club member Stephen Waterfield said: "He was a devil for getting in one last length and had to be reprimanded before for staying in after sessions were over." The pool marshal, Benjamin East, added: "He was very determined and talented. He wanted to go the whole way."

Dr Deryk James, a pathologist, said vigorous exercise with prolonged holding of breath was known to be dangerous "because the oxygen level is so low that you lose consciousness before the desire to breathe takes over."

Afterwards, Luke's mother Melanie, 40, said: "It was his dream to go to the Olympics and his coach said that he was likely to have made it. It is such a pity that it will not come true now."

From: Olympic hopeful died during swim training, This is London, 07.02.07

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