With the training demands of representing Britain as a professional swimmer, there appeared to be no way that Harry Needs would be able to fit university into his busy schedule. However, with the opportunities offered by a flexible degree from IDI, delivered in partnership with the University of Hertfordshire, he discovered he could free up enough time in his daily routine for study. Now realising his artistic potential on the BA (Hons) Graphic Design course, Harry is well on his way to setting himself on the path to a creative career after life in the pool.
Hoping to be part of Team GB for the 2016 Rio Olympics, Harry, 23, undergoes a strenuous daily training schedule. Since starting to swim as a three year old he has gone from strength to strength and, on the brink of achieving the highlight of his career, he spends a lot of time and effort striving to become the best he possibly can. In between training sessions, however, Harry felt a separate calling to his second favourite thing and decided that he would find the time, and energy, to do this as well:
"Art, Design, Creative... you name it and I'm there. I've always enjoyed doing it, and it was time for me to pursue a passion and love with intentions to start a career."
Finding a way to manage this was not easy. Returning to education after spending so much time focusing on his sport was a daunting prospect and, coupled with the time constraints, Harry spent six months finding a way to make it work for him:
"I had to build up the courage to start a degree; I had been looking for a while and was nervous about starting up education again, especially because my professional swimming career has always taken priority."
Harry has quickly discovered his fears were unfounded and is finding study with IDI to be just the opportunity he needed, helping him to realise his ambition of starting a creative career in advertising:
"Studying online is easy and a flexible learning resource, it was perfect to fit into my busy schedule."
"IDI have been trustworthy, helpful, considerate and encouraging. I had no doubts I would do anything but succeed with my degree."
As if he didn't have enough to get on with, while studying with IDI, Harry managed to organise his wedding after getting engaged to fellow swimmer and former Olympic and World Champion, Rebecca Adlington. He describes, "Living with my fiancé," as his proudest achievement and with her help he is managing to find a balance between all his different commitments:
"The most challenging thing about the course so far has been time management, deadlines and overthinking ideas."
His wife might well inspire him to success in the pool but it was his granddad that encouraged him to develop his artistic side:
"My inspiration came from growing up with my granddad and seeing his passion and love for art and design. He introduced me to many new techniques and ideas, which I now see in the world of advertising."
Harry is enjoying realising both his sporting and creative ambitions and would encourage anyone starting out with IDI to fully engage with their studies and make the most of their time:
"The most rewarding feeling comes from being creative, working hard and having fun whilst doing it. Be sure to communicate with all areas of the IDI community and don't procrastinate. Be prepared and strict on yourself."