A TALENTED swimmer and triathlete has returned to her roots to help to celebrate two landmark achievements.

Georgie Rutherford, who was born and raised in Darlington, returned to the pool where she learned to swim for a triumphant return home after adding another world title to her impressive list of accolades.

The 33-year-old believes her sporting success was only possible – and owes her achievements – to the years spent training and swimming lengths in her hometown’s Dolphin Centre.

It was the leisure complex’s pool where Ms Rutherford learnt to swim as a four-year-old which kick-started her career as an athlete – most recently culminating in a World Oceanwoman Championship title last month.

The former Hummersknott School pupil returned to the Dolphin Centre, off Horsemarket, to ring in the success of her latest win and to commemorate 35 years since the complex officially opened.

She said: “The Dolphin Centre has been a huge part of my life from learning to swim to training and now winning three world titles.

“I was in a bad road accident last year and was injured so badly I couldn’t race and lost some of my sponsors, but the staff at the Dolphin Centre stuck with me and helped me train and stay motivated. I am so grateful.”

The athlete clinched her World Oceanwoman win in Spain in October in the event that challenged her to swim 5.5km through choppy seas around Benidorm.

She added: “I did not expect to win, but I am absolutely delighted as this has been my goal all year.

“A lot of training has gone into this and it wouldn’t have been possible without the support of the Dolphin Centre’s team and facilities.”

She learnt to swim at the Dolphin Centre in 1988 and continued to swim throughout school, competing in galas for both Cockerton Primary School and Hummersknott School.

She started triathlons when she went to university and won her first world title just seven years later.

Nick Wallis, Darlington Borough Council’s cabinet member for leisure and local environment, said: “We are all very proud of Georgie and her achievements.”