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Last Updated: Thursday, 19 August, 2004, 12:03 GMT 13:03 UK
Student swimmer's A-grade passes
Mackenzie  Howe
Swimming champ Mackenzie Howe landed three straight As at A-level
Champion swimmer Mackenzie Howe has surfaced from her A-levels with three grade As - while keeping up her training for Wales and the UK squad.

The Cardiff 18-year-old collected top marks in French, economics and English literature even though she had hours of pool work before and after lectures.

But the effort has paid off, next week she leaves for Canada to combine her studies with yet more training.

She said: "I wasn't going to let anything get in my way."

Ms Howe is a student at the fee-paying Haberdasher's Monmouth School for Girls in Monmouthshire and is also the Welsh record holder in her event, the 200m individual medley.

She admits the past two years of juggling lessons with rigorous training - she lives in Cardiff but swam in Swansea and studied in Monmouth - have been tough.

She said: "Three or four days a week, I was leaving home at 4.30am, arriving in Swansea for 5.30am and getting in the water for 6am.

"I'd swim for a couple of hours before leaving for college - I'd get to college in Monmouth for about 9.30am.

"After college it would be back to Cardiff or Swansea for more training before getting home at 8.30 or 9pm.

"It didn't leave a lot of time for anything else, so I'm glad that it's over.

"The training was fine, the worst thing was the travelling - it took it out of me."

She added: "It was better once I learned to drive because before then, I was using buses and trains to get between Cardiff, Swansea and Monmouth every day.

I got what I wanted, I'm really glad. It has definitely been worth it
Mackenzie Howe

"My parents did worry about me because I was so exhausted all the time but they let me get on with it.

"I got what I wanted, I'm really glad. It has definitely been worth it."

But the determination to gain her qualifications as well as a place in her sport were apparent two years ago.

At the age of 16 she scooped a raft of A and A* GCSE passes while also competing in the Commonwealth Games in Manchester.

She now plans to study economics at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver as well as concentrating on swimming ahead of the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne.

"It should get easier in Vancouver because everything is on the same campus - I am hoping to have a bit of time for fun," Ms Howe added.

Dr Brenda Despontin , Headmistress of Haberdashers' school said she was delighted as Ms Howe's achievements.

She said: "Not only is she a fine academic, she is a remarkable young woman.

"Mackenzie has an exciting future ahead of her, and the school is proud of all she has achieved."

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