ILLNESS may have derailed his original plan in the pool for 2015, but Ross Murdoch believes his rejigged version can be just as fruitful in the long run.
Last summer Murdoch could not have been in a better mood, having pipped compatriot and Olympic silver medallist Michael Jamieson to 200m breaststroke gold at the Commonwealth Games before adding 100m breaststroke bronze at the same competition and then silver over both distances at the European Championships.
But a bout of illness during the winter then hit his training hard, at one point leaving him questioning whether he would even make the team for this year’s World Championships, which get underway in Kazan on 2 August.
At the trials in April, Murdoch was no longer the main man, with England’s Adam Peaty taking not only a clean sweep of the breaststroke titles but also a world record in the 100m.
The Scot even had to settle for third in the 200m breaststroke, outside the required top two for world selection, although he did take second in both the 50m and 100m finals, setting a national record in the latter.
But, while his attention will be focused on the 100m in Russia, Murdoch believes concentrating on the shorter form can be beneficial when it comes to attacking the 200m at next year’s Olympics.
“I would have loved to have raced in the 200m, but there is such stiff competition,” he said. “This will be a chance to go out there and do the 100 and then next year I can really go for a fast 200.
“There is absolutely no room for mistakes. It’s one of the most unforgiving sports in the world.
“This summer is about me improving the front end of my swimming. I want people to consider me dangerous.
“Not just that he is going to get out fast, but he comes back fast as well and will race you all the way, biting and scratching to get that win.
“With Russia, it is not the Commonwealth or the Europeans, it’s against the whole world and I want to make people pay attention to me.
“Before the trials I was thinking I was a right off for the Worlds. I was just thinking all my rivals were in the pool training and I wasn’t. It would have been tough to make the team even if I was fully fit.
“Thankfully, I managed to make it in the 100m and setting a new personal best at the trials was great.”
While getting himself onto the world team after such a start to the year was one thing for Murdoch, ensuring he is in the frame for Rio 2016 is another entirely.
The 21-year-old has a word of warning for his rivals – there is plenty more to come from him yet.
“I can get back to the level of last year. If I was not certain I could beat that I probably would have retired,” he added.
“I’ve got a good block of training behind me and I’m buzzing to get started now at the Worlds.
“I think I’m definitely in the prime of my life. In fact, people say your prime is between 24 and 27, so I’m about to come into my prime after Rio.
“I’m going to be plugging away for the next few years trying to get my times down.”
• Ross Murdoch is one of 1,300 athletes on UK Sport’s National Lottery supported World Class Programme. Find out more www.uksport.gov.uk