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Page last updated at 10:02 GMT, Monday, 4 August 2008 11:02 UK

Brits to watch: Liam Tancock

Liam Tancock

By Ollie Williams

Devon's Liam Tancock stormed to 100m backstroke gold at this year's World Short Course Swimming Championships in Manchester.

That was in a 25m pool and Tancock must now deliver over the longer 50m course at Beijing's Water Cube venue, but he has a world long-course bronze from Melbourne 2007 to his name, is the current 50m world record-holder and remains a top British medal prospect.

"I am enjoying what I am doing," said the 23-year-old following his Manchester success.

"I am just trying to swim fast and if I break records then I win medals, and that is a bonus for me."


Born: 7 May 1985, Exeter
Trains: Loughborough University
Career highlights: 50m backstroke world record in 2008
Personal best: 100m backstroke, long course: 53.61 (British record)


2008 form: Tancock has shown scintillating progress in the last year. He won no fewer than four medals at Manchester 2008, including 100m backstroke gold, 50m backstroke silver and 200m individual medley silver.

Tancock delighted with gold in Manchester

Rivals: Tancock's rivals for gold are almost exclusively American. Aaron Peirsol is the US star man - a double backstroke gold medallist from Athens, and the first man to break 53 seconds in the 100m backstroke.

"He's been at the top of his game for the past four years," admits Tancock - and if he gets past Peirsol then a host of other US names, like Ryan Lochte and Michael Phelps, will still remain.

How he could win: Tancock will be the first to admit that his is an incredibly competitive field. A repeat of his British record time, 53.61, would place him seventh in the world at this moment, but more than seven-tenths of a second behind Peirsol.

Importantly, however, Tancock's short-course performance in Manchester showed he can hold his own with the Americans, beating Randall Bal into second place in the 100m backstroke.

"I'm always keeping an eye out for the others, of course," Tancock told Sport magazine. "But I can only swim my own race. It's about concentrating on yourself and doing the best you can to get results."

What he says: "When I was between the ages of 14 and 15 I felt I had to choose between rugby and swimming. Obviously I chose swimming, and I have never looked back."

What you say: "For swimming I'd go for Liam Tancock. As a world record holder he deserves due respect, despite claims from Rebecca Adlington and Hannah Miley."

Ryan Lochte (left) with Liam Tancock
Tancock (right) and Ryan Lochte are stars of men's backstroke
Sporting high: 100m backstroke short course gold, in front of a packed British arena. "The atmosphere was electric, it gave me a real buzz of excitement. I took gold in 50.14, the second fastest time ever recorded. The medal ceremony was a great experience, standing in first position on the podium in front of a home crowd."

Sporting low: Competing in a lightning storm in Rome. "It was raining as I was standing on the blocks. There was this massive rumble of cracking thunder above my head, lasting around five seconds.

"I thought we would be asked to stand down by the referee but, as soon as the thunder stopped, he set us off! I couldn't believe it."

In action: 10-14 August
Tancock's backstroke heats begin on Sunday 10 August at around 1300 BST. If he reaches the 100m backstroke final, it is scheduled to begin at around 0330 BST on Tuesday 12 August.


Life before sport: Liam lists his first hobby - admittedly at a very young age - as "collecting insects and slow worms, and climbing trees". The adventurous Tancock progressed to swimming, and was racing by the age of nine.

He went to school in Devon before moving to Loughborough University. "I used to like the fact that at 9am in registration I had already been up for three hours when my classmates had just woken up," he says.

Hero worship: Liam lists his coach, Ben Titley, as the biggest influence on his career, but would most like to meet the Queen.

Liam also hero-worships a Lamborghini - when he was young he received a postcard from Sydney showing the famous Opera House, and a Lamborghini with the personalised number plate "L1AM". "So far I have managed to visit Sydney and get a private plate, but I haven't quite got the Lamborghini."

Caitlin McClatchey
"Liam! For me?" - Caitlin McClatchey, girlfriend and fellow GB star
Most likely to: Keep it simple in the kitchen. Liam's own website includes "Tancock's kitchen", a section dedicated to his recipes, but the backstroke magician appears to stray little further than some old favourites - spag bol, pizza, steak, and hamburgers.

Least likely to: Need directory enquiries when doing up his house. Liam's dad is a commercial director in a large Devon building firm, while his brother, Ryan - who inspired him to take up swimming - also works in the building trade.

Did you know? Liam's other half is fellow GB swimmer and training partner Caitlin McClatchey. "Out of the pool, we just do normal things - I guess we're a normal couple," he says. "We tend not to talk about swimming that much. If it was just swimming, swimming, swimming, you'd never be able to get away from it."

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see also
Tancock focused on Olympic debut
22 Jul 08 |  Swimming
GB swimmers shine again at Worlds
12 Apr 08 |  Swimming
Tancock and Adlington set records
10 Apr 08 |  Swimming

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