City swimmer inspired by star team-mates

EDINBURGH swimmer Craig Benson is arguably the most unheralded name among Great Britain’s Olympic team – but he’s vowed to prove he’s no flash in the pan at London 2012 this summer.

The 17-year-old sprang one of the surprises of the British Gas Championships at the London 2012 Aquatics Centre last month, clinching 100m breaststroke silver ahead of senior GB swimmers Andrew Willis and Michael Jamieson.

In doing so, Benson, who won world junior gold in Lima, Peru last summer, booked his place at this summer’s Olympics in his first senior year in the British set-up. And he’s the first to admit that the hard work starts now if he’s to ensure his first Olympic appearance is a success.

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“I was really pleased with my performances at the British Gas Championships this year,” said Benson.

“To qualify for the Olympic Games was a massive achievement. It still feels a little bit surreal at the moment but I’m just so pleased to be on the team and going to the Games.

“I took a little break after the British Gas Championships and I got back in the pool a couple of weeks ago and it’s basically just hard training for me the whole way up until the Games now.

“It’s pretty much every athlete’s dream to compete at an Olympic Games and it makes it even more special that it’s a home Games and to have 17,500 people cheering you on will be really exciting – I’ve never experienced anything like it. Obviously it isn’t that long until the Games but I can get a lot training done in that time and I’m looking forward to get into the pool and work on the aspects that I need to improve on.”

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After the British Gas Championships and a National Squad Camp, Benson’s third appearance at the London 2012 Aquatics Centre will be for the real thing this summer. And having rubbed shoulders with the likes of double Olympic champion Rebecca Adlington at the recent camp, Benson admits he immediately feels at home in GB colours.

“We were at the London Aquatics Centre for a training camp for people who have already qualified for the Olympics which was fantastic,” he added.

“The camp was really good because I didn’t really know many people on the team because this is my first major senior camp but everyone was really nice and there was a really good team atmosphere at the moment.”

• British Gas supports British Swimming at all levels and is getting the nation to show its support for Britain’s swimmers. For more information visit BGSwimming