Meet superstar swimmer Andrea, from Malaysia who's studying A Level Physics, Chemistry and Maths while juggling her intensive swimming schedule with the BCS Swimming Academy
Q: How did you find out about BCS? Tell us about your journey to getting here.

A: My mum originally looked for an agent to look for boarding schools in the UK who provided for Swimming Academies. We went through a few, but my mom really had her eyes on BCS because of how small the school was. I think she preferred smaller schools other than the bigger boarding schools.

Q: Which other schools did you look at?

A: We were considering Mount Kelly because they also had a really strong swim team. But we decided to choose BCS because my mom thought I would work better in the smaller group.

Q: Did you come and visit for a tour, or was it all all done online?

A: It was all done online. I didn't have any visits.

Q: Tell us about your swimming?

A: I started swimming competitively when I was 11, and then I joined the Malaysian National Junior team in 2020. But then I left when I came over here.

Q: Do you enjoy the Swimming Academy at BCS?

A: Yeah, It's really nice. Everyone there is just so friendly. I really like it. They were really welcoming to me. Mr Woodward is my main coach, he's really supportive, and he really helps me a lot.

Q: What is your training schedule like?

A: I train about eight times a week. My earliest session starts at 6am.

Q: How do you feel that impacts on your studies, or do you feel like you've got a really good balance?

A: I think I've got quite a good balance. Sometimes it can be a bit tiring, but I think swimming almost takes the stress away from like studying. So in a way it's really stress relieving from training as well.

Q: Tell us about when you first arrived?

A: I was really nervous when I first arrived, but boarding seemed lovely and I had my mum with me. But the boarding staff and prefects were very friendly so I felt at home and settled pretty quickly. 

Q: Tell us a bit about boarding life, what do you do on the weekends?

A:  I haven't really been to that many boating trips because I'm usually swimming, but I really enjoyed Winter Wonderland in London. That was really fun.

Q: How are you feeling about staying at BCS next year for Year 13?

A: I'm really excited. Almost feels like home here.

Q: What do you think about the local area?

A: I love the beach. I haven't really been down to visit that much, but I really enjoy it. I really like the weather here compared to Malaysia. It's really hot and humid in Malaysia. We only have one season that's like summer. Technically, we have a summer season and a monsoon season.

Q: When you were looking at boarding schools, did you ever consider any other country or was it always the UK?

A: It was always the UK because when I studied in Malaysia I went to a British International school, so I was already studying the British curriculum.

Q: What other classes do you enjoy the most at the school?

A: I also do EPQ, that's quite fun as well, even though I only have it once a week.

Q: Who is your favourite teacher?

A: Oh, I think I'd say Dr. Pumphrey. I just feel like I wouldn't survive Physics without him. Before I came to UK, Physics was one of my least favourite subjects. But I feel like because of him, it's now become one of my favourite subjects. He really knows how to make the subject interesting. And if I don't understand anything, I feel very comfortable just asking him about it.

Q:  Do you feel supported in your studies?

A: Yes. Especially cause my, like, class sizes is really small. I feel like teachers really focus on individual students.

Q: If you had any friends back in Malaysia who were looking to come to a UK school, how would you describe BCS to them?

"It's a very small community, but it's very close. I feel like everyone knows everyone else. It's also fantastic for sports, because not many schools accommodate for both academics and sports - it's usually one or the other. I feel like BCS really does accommodate for both."

Q: What your plans after A Levels?

A: I want to go to university in the UK. Probably to study Engineering.

Q: Do you feel like BCS helped you with career guidance?

A: I've definitely received a lot of help with career guidance from Miss Rowe. Yes. And I'm still looking into other options.

Q: Do you spend much time out in the local area or do you do any co-curricular clubs?

A: Not really. Most of the time I'm swimming! But I do also run a Film Club every Wednesday night.

Q: They tell us about the Film Club, what does it involve?

A: It's for students in Years 7 to 9. The original plan was to basically just watch films for the first couple of sessions and then after that, I'll let them go off and make their own short films. And it can either be like a re-creation of any of the films they've seen, or their favourite movies, or an original piece that they've created. And then at the end of the term, we will all come back and watch their creations.

Q:  Is film a passion of yours as well then?

A: I quite enjoy films. I don't think I have a favourite film. I just enjoy watching films.

Q:  Where do you see your swimming career taking you?

A: Probably just competitively on the side? I don't think I'm good enough to make it a full time career. I think I continue to keep it as a hobby. 

Q: What's your biggest achievement in swimming to date?

A: Winning a gold in nationals and Malaysia. And at BCS, probably qualifying for regionals. 

Q: What's your typical day of training, swimming and studying? 

A: I usually wake up at 5.30am and then I'd get to the pool by about 5.50am to 5.55am, and then the session starts at 6am till 8am. Then I would have breakfast followed by classes. In the afternoons, the swimming sessions are usually about 1.5 hours, between 4pm and 5.30pm. After that it's dinner followed by prep time where I do all my homework. Some days we focus on freestyles, and other days we focus on butterfly or your second stroke.