SPECIAL school pupils from Oxfordshire won bronze medals at the London 2012 Olympic swimming pool.

Students from Fitzwaryn in Wantage and John Watson in Wheatley joined the Panathlon swimming finals, with the Wantage team taking third place.

For both schools the competition at the Aquatics Centre in Stratford, London, on July 6 was the culmination of month of training and competition.

Fitzwaryn swimmer Danny Phillips, 10, had also won a gold medal in his school sports day on Monday.

He said afterwards: "It has been really good. I love swimming and can't wait to show my medal to my mum and put it up in my bedroom."

Fitzwaryn were crowned West Counties Primary Multisport champions in Swindon on July 4 before going to the South of England Swimming Finals at the Olympic Park.

Each of the schools' eight finalists at the Aquatics Centre had to battle through qualifying, and Fitzwaryn pupils finished third with 53 points behind Priory School from Suffolk on 67, and Whitefield Schools of east London on 77.

John Watson finished sixth overall.

Fitzwaryn's teacher Alex Miller said: "We just absolutely loved being here in this awesome venue – it's been a privilege.

"Having the opportunity to compete against other schools and forging that teamwork together is wonderful.

"We left at 7.30am but it was well worth it."

Panathlon is a charity which gives young people with special needs opportunities to take part in competitive sport that they might not get elsewhere.

The medals were handed out by 400m freestyle Paralympic champion Sam Hynd, who was victorious in the 2008 games in Beijing, China, making his first visit to the Aquatics Centre since winning bronze there in 2012.

He admitted coming back into the stadium gave him 'tingles' as he looked wistfully at lane four, where he lined up in the final.

He said: "I can’t think of any better circumstances to come back here: these kids are very lucky to have these opportunities.

"I never had any of this when I was younger; I had to join an able-bodied swimming club and make the best of it that I could.

"This sort of inclusive, high-profile event is just priceless for these children."

John Watson School teacher Kevin Larsen reflected: "It has been a wonderful experience for staff and students.

"Being part of something so large is terrific.

"The whole concept behind Panathlon is one we should all embrace.

"Competing builds up the children’s self-esteem, confidence and gives them an opportunity to taste success which permeates right the way across the curriculum.

"It was Plato who said that the winning is in the participating.

"There’s truth in that, but it is about competition: taking part is great but it’s a competitive event with winners and losers and that teachers them a lot about life."