Chris Walker-Hebborn’s countdown to next year’s Commonwealth Games begins at the European Short Course Swimming Championships in Denmark today.
The 23-year-old, from Bury St Edmunds, competes in the 50m backstroke and the 100m backstroke over an intensive two-day programme in the city of Herning.
Walker-Hebborn — who holds the British short course record over 200m — has changed his specialist distance to 100m after a stunning display at last year’s British trials, so is preparing to enter new territory.
“Medals are within reach, but I will just have to see how it goes,” he said. “We are taking it seriously and it’s going to be a very quick meet.
“We’ve had a good rest for it and I’m hoping to swim pretty quickly.”
Walker-Hebborn had specialised over 200m until stunning everyone — including himself — with a time of 53.3 seconds over 100m at last year’s British trials.
That was within a tenth of a second of the bronze medal-winning time at the World Championships, but he could not reproduce that on the biggest stage.
However, after months of training specifically for the distance — putting on 6kg of weight in the process — Walker-Hebborn hopes to be better prepared for the sprint distances.
“I’m trying to put on a lot more weight to compete with these sprint guys,” he said. “I’ve put on around six kilos for a lot more muscle and a lot more power.”
Walker-Hebborncompetes in the 50m backstroke today and the 100m backstroke tomorrow before turning his attention to the Commonwealth trials in April.