HEXHAM’s rising swimming star has set his sights on Olympic qualification this season.

David Cumberlidge, who stands at 6ft 7ins, is currently the fourth fastest 50-metre freestyle swimmer in British swimming history.

The 23-year-old, from Hexham, has clocked a time of 21.97 seconds in the 50m freestyle and 48.76 seconds in the 100m event, and has already won a string of accolades.

A member of Tynedale Swimming Club since he was eight years old, Cumberlidge’s swimming career stepped up a notch after he went to Herriot Watt University in Edinburgh to study chemical engineering.

He doubled his workload both in and out of the pool at a university which has been a strong force in the swimming world traditionally. His studies certainly brought him some success as he went on to win a bronze medal at the European University Games in 2016.

He quickly followed that up with a gold at the British Summer Championships.

The following year, he was selected for the Commonwealth Games after impressing at the World University Games in Taiwan.

He went on to bring home his first senior international medals in Australia, winning silver in both the 4x100 freestyle and the 4x100 medley events.

He also came close to a medal in the 50m freestyle, but finished fourth behind fellow Englishman Ben Proud.

Cumberlidge’s success continued last year when, in July, Cumberlidge won gold at the Summer Universiade, the world university games in Italy, finishing ahead of Japan’s Kosuke Matsui, who was runner-up, and Russian Daniil Markov, who took bronze.

He was was one of three gold medallists for Great Britain at the games, in Naples, and one of 10 Team GB medallists overall.

In addition, with a time of 21.97 seconds, he became just the fourth man in British swimming history to break the 22-second mark in 50m freestyle, behind only Ben Proud at the 2018 European Championships, Adam Brown at the 2013 British Championships, and Mark Foster at the 2008 Zlatni Medvjed.

With the victory, Cumberlidge improved his chances of joining European champion Ben Proud on the British Olympic roster this summer.

The 2020 Olympics will take place in Tokyo, beginning on July 25.

The first place finisher in the open final of each individual Olympic event at the 2020 British Swimming Championships will be nominated for selection for the squad, while eight more nominations can be made. The championships take place in London in April.