A FORMER Team GB swimmer is diving into new waters after launching an education business in Winchester.

Julia Beckett, who was in the swimming team for more than six years and won a Commonwealth Games silver medal, set up Bloom-Ed to 'provide further support' for school pupils.

The 33-year-old developed the company with Joanna Clemo, with whom she worked at St Bede's Primary School with.

Bloom-Ed offers both after school tutoring and sessions to home educated children, as well as support to parents who want to help their children's learning.

Julia, who grew up in Compton, told the Chronicle: "After retiring from swimming, I never thought I'd be setting up my own education business!

"It started as a seed of an idea about five or six months ago, but both of us weren't too sure whether to go for it.

"We sat down, looked at all of the ideas we had and cut them down to what the business is now, and after telling people what we had come up with and speaking to people who had taken similar ventures, it all became really exciting.

"When we found our premises at Unit 12 of Winnall Industrial Estate, it felt more real, and ever since we've been welcomed by the whole community there."

She added: "Children in schools are facing a far more pressured environment these days, so when Jo and I had this mutual idea, we knew it was the right thing to do ­­– there was certainly a gap for us to fill.

"I really enjoyed teaching at St Bede but the reason for moving was to fill that gap.

"Of course, we've had patches of being worried, and times when we question whether we've done the right thing, but we've always taught children to take risks and be brave, so it felt only right to practice what we preach."

The business partners are both highly experienced in the education industry.

Joanna has been teaching for the last 12 years in a number of schools, and spent the last two years at St Bede's.

Julia first became a teaching assistant after retiring from swimming following the 2008 Beijing Olympics, and then attended university to fully qualify as a teacher.

She continued: "I love working with children – we both do.

"When I got my first job, I begged them to help me get into university and train to be a teacher.

"I've had some brilliant memories, especially at St Bede's. We are both going to miss our team – we worked with some fantastic people."