Chris Walker-Hebborn swims to silver in 200m backstroke

Chris Walker-Hebborn

Chris Walker-Hebborn - Credit: PA

Chris Walker-Hebborn is set for a double assault on World Championship glory after claiming 200m backstroke silver at the British Gas Swimming Championships last night.

The 22-year-old ended Liam Tancock’s four-year reign as domestic champion in the 100m backstroke earlier in the week and would have made it two from two had it not been for a miraculous swim from Scotland’s Craig McNally.

McNally shaved two seconds off his personal best to take gold with Walker-Hebborn second in a season’s best time of 1:57.20 minutes.

Both McNally and Walker-Hebborn’s swims saw them duck under the qualifying standard of 1:57.42 minutes and he now set to be named in the squad for Barcelona later this month in both events when the final names are revealed today (Monday).

And the Bury St Edmunds-born former Team Ipswich swimmer was naturally delighted with a job well done – although he conceded McNally deserved his spot at the top.

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He said: “I’m really happy with that, it was just under the qualifying time so hopefully that’s another event at the worlds.

“I can’t match the pace of Craig McNally coming back at the moment, I gave it all I had, I’m knackered and I’m ready to go home.

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“The win would have been nice, but 1.56.3 is a big time and I can’t say I was expecting it, but it was a great race.

“I’ve had a great week, hopefully I can manage two events at the worlds, but it’s been a long week, emotionally it’s been quite draining.

“Mentally preparing for an event like this is probably more nerve-racking than the worlds itself.

Walker-Hebborn’s impressive form in Sheffield is a positive for British Swimming having previously revealed he was close to quitting the sport after a disappointing London 2012 and 2011 World Championship.

And while he is planning on taking one day off after his efforts in Sheffield, he insists that will be the limit as he looks to finally deliver on the senior stage having impressed as a junior.

“It’s been a tough few years so to come here and qualify like I have has been quite a weight off the shoulders so I’m pretty happy,” he added.

“Luckily I think we get Monday off, so the coaches have been nice. But back into it on Tuesday and then we fly out to Majorca on Wednesday for two weeks training and then come back and get ready to head off to the pre-camp, wherever it is, in Barcelona somewhere. It will straight back into it, no messing around. Maybe one or two weeks and then start to bring it back down again.

“Fingers crossed I can get a medal in Barcelona. I think the 100 back puts me fifth now with some of the Americans racing this week. It puts me in good stead for a final so I’ve just got to keep my fingers crossed and get on with it.”

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.

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