A disappointing London Olympics last year rocked Chris Walker-Hebborn’s confidence, but he insists he is now back to his best.
The 22-year-old from Bury St Edmunds, a backstroke specialist, failed to make it out of the heats in either the 100m or 200m events at London 2012 and admits to pondering retirement in the aftermath.
However, having devoted to his training with renewed vigour after banishing such thoughts, the first chance for redemption comes at the British Gas Championships from June 26-30.
They act as the trials for next month’s World Championships in Barcelona and Walker-Hebborn is adamant he can produce the sort of form that saw him take 200m gold back in 2009.
“London 2012 was not at all where I wanted to be, I took some time off afterwards to try and pick myself back up,” he said. “This season so far has been great — everything is going the way that I could have hoped.
“When you don’t swim of course those thoughts (of retirement) start to enter your head, but I took my time.
“I have not achieved what I wanted to in the sport and I know I’m capable of more — I don’t want to look back and be thinking ‘what if?’
“Until I am forced to stop or I think that I have reached my potential then I will still be out there swimming.
“I’ve only had one gold at the British Championships so far in my career and who does not want to win more medals?”
Walker-Hebborn, who you can support at the trials on the live streaming page on the British Swimming website, has made two appearances at the World Long Course Championships, but only over 200m.
In Sheffield, Walker-Hebborn will be gunning for victory in his main event, the 200m, but has also backed himself to turn a few heads over half the distance as well.
“Barcelona and this summer’s World Championships are well within reach, but I have still got to qualify,” he added. “The times I need to hit are more than achievable.
“The 200m has always been my main event, but the 100m is an event I’ve been making some improvements in and can hopefully start to make a name for myself.
“Obviously you’ve got Liam Tancock in the 100m so it will be fun to race against him and in the 200m it depends who decides to do it.
“I would like to dip into the 53-second-mark for the 100m while in the 200m I’m going for the win — if I can swim under 1.57 as well then that would be great.
“I know what I think I am capable of, but in the end it all depends on how I’m feeling on the day — I feel like I’m firing on all cylinders at the moment.”
Walker-Hebborn begins his 100m backstroke campaign on Wednesday, while the 200m backstroke event starts on Saturday, June 29.
n This year, British Gas is launching SwimBritain, a programme to create a healthier nation and get 500,000 people swimming more regularly by 2015. Visit www.swimbritain.co.uk/challenge