I started swimming in Glasgow when I was about four and a half / five years old. My parents bought me a six-week learning block and I didn’t actually get in the water until week six of that because it was too cold and I didn’t want to get in. I think after that initial block when I eventually did get into the water, I loved it and I’ve never really looked back since then, to be honest.
I swam and raced on medley until the age of about nineteen or twenty then I really started to specialise in breast stroke so it’s only been the last eighteen months/two years that I been really focusing on breaststroke.
Breaststrokers aren’t usually the tallest athletes. I’m just a touch over six foot which, you know, in breaststroke is actually quite tall. I take a lot of stick actually from the other guys in the squad, I’m one of the lucky ones, that, you know, I can pretty much eat whatever I want and not have to worry about putting weight on. I actually find it really difficult to maintain body weight, particularly when we’re in a sort of hard training phase, you know I can be eating six to six and a half thousand calories a day, which, you know, sometimes I just, I can’t eat enough to sort of fill myself up.
You know the 200 is my main event but it’s so important to have the hundred as well because my front end hundred is a weakness and it’s something I’ve been working on in the last year. I think I’m sort of trying to adopt those tactics where I need to be out over the first 100 strong, but still, maintaining, you know, a degree of control really and still being comfortable in order to still make the most of that second hundred. I think last season leading into the Commonwealth Games the one hundred was almost more of a focus because it was a weakness of mine and it was something that I had to work on before the Olympic season.
I moved to the University of Bath in 2009 because it’s one of the best facilities in the UK. We’ve got the Olympic size swimming pool which, you know, is obviously critical in the lead up to major events. We’ve got a great support staff network and we’ve got great support from the National Watersports and UK Sport and then more recently through Team 2012 as well which has been a great initiative and a great help, and I think it shows in the fact that we have all the available support staff under one roof here, physiotherapists, massage therapists, you know, all the medical staff support and the coaches so, it all works really well together.
The World Championships this year were a huge stepping stone towards the Olympic Games, you know, looking at the stats and the history of the sport, Olympic medallists almost always come from the top eight of the previous year’s championships, so, you know, it was a huge stepping stone this summer and it was important to make that final and, you know, not just to get that confidence boost and to put yourself in the frame for Olympic selection hopefully and finals and medals next year.
There were three British guys ranked inside the top ten in the world with only two available spots and it’s going to be so difficult to qualify in the first place but you know the other side of the coin to that is if a British male qualifies in the 200 breaststroke then you’ll almost be expected to make the Olympic final and you know once you’re in that final anything can happen and it could be anyone’s year I guess.