Chris Walker-Hebborn admitted the disappointment of his initial outings at the World Championships proved to be his overall downfall.
The 23-year-old from Bury St Edmunds opened his campaign in Barcelona, Spain, on day two, but he was to exit at the semi-final stage of the 100m backstroke after clocking 53.96seconds.
That was only good enough for sixth in his semi-final and 12th overall with his mood made worse as his personal best of 53.38 would have seen him safely through as fourth fastest.
He then had to dust himself down and tackle the 200m backstroke three days later in the hope of reaching his first world final – his previous best was ninth in Rome in 2009.
Walker-Hebborn stopped the clock at one minute 58.16 seconds in the semi-finals to place just 13th overall, something he believes was a by-product of what had happened previously.
“I talked to my coach after the disappointment of the 100m quite a bit,” said Walker-Hebborn. “It was tough, obviously I knew a personal best would have put me well in and around the mix, but that’s how it goes in swimming.
“I dipped under 54 seconds in the 100m, which wasn’t a bad swim, but I still had to get my head in the right frame of mind – mentality is a big thing.
“It was nice to go under 54 seconds again, but it wasn’t enough to bring me back for the final, so I’m a little bit gutted knowing my personal best would have put me in the mix.
“But it just didn’t happen. I was pleased to dip under 1.58 in the 200m heats – it was my fastest morning swim.
“I’ve not been swimming badly – the 100m was a good swim as well.”
Walker-Hebborn’s performance in Barcelona mirrors that of the London 2012 Olympics, where he performed better in the 100m backstroke than the 200m — 20th playing 22nd.
He first became British champion in the 200m though in 2009, but with the 100m crown secured this year, Walker-Hebborn admits the shorter distance is now the preferred event.
“The 200m is my best event but I don’t want it to be,” he said. “I enjoy the 100m a lot more and I’ve focused a lot on it because there was a great chance at worlds for me.
“Two finals was the goal in Barcelona, if I could have made the finals I could have taken it from there but it wasn’t to be.”
Walker-Hebborn was also part of the British 4x100m medley relay team that finished ninth.
n Britain’s athletes are funded by UK Sport as the nation’s high performance sports agency responsible for the strategic investment of £355million of National Lottery and Exchequer funding in Olympic and Paralympic sports preparing for Rio 2016.
The ambition is to win more medals than in London 2012 while building a stronger more sustainable high performance system.