THE saying goes “keep your friends close and your enemy’s closer”, but for Edinburgh swimmer Kris Gilchrist he knows he has no choice as he bids to book himself a London 2012 spot.
The 27-year-old upped sticks to flit between Bath ITC, were he trains, and London, where he lives, after the 2009 World Championships in Rome, where he failed to make a final, teaming up with fellow breaststrokers Michael Jamieson and Adam Willis.
And with the Olympic Games looming, the trio have been locked in a three-way battle for the two spots, to star in London next year.
Jamieson looks to have taken up pole position after he finished fifth in the 200 metre breaststroke in Shanghai at July’s World Championships, Gilchrist only managing 26th in the 100m equivalent.
But the Scot is adamant he can stay in the mix as he vows not to be the one left behind when the London 2012 party kicks off.
“It is a bit of a strange situation as obviously there are three of us that train together at Bath and all going for an Olympic spot, but the reality is that only two of us will make it,” said Gilchrist who is urging people to take up swimming for 30 minutes once a week as part of British Swimming’s Big Splash campaign.
“Three into two obviously doesn’t go, and it will be pretty nasty and hard to take for the one who doesn’t make it, but my goal is to make sure that I am not the one that misses out.
“It will be difficult, but I haven’t put all this hard work in over the last 20 years to just let the biggest competition ever pass me by. When we go away to training camps abroad like the one we are off to in Dubai soon it is good because there are a great group of guys like Michael Jamieson and Andrew Willis and we all push each other, and there is a really good atmosphere.
“There is a real excitement with everything happening next year and gearing towards the Olympics and we are all feeding off each other and it makes for an exciting time.”
Despite making the trip to China, it was far from plain sailing for Gilchrist who had to wait to qualify until the second time of asking at the ASA National Championships just a month beforehand. But the 2008 Short Course World champion puts this down to getting used to his new surroundings, something he knows he won’t have to contend with next year.
“Last year was a funny one for me as I changed coaches at the beginning and I didn’t qualify for the Worlds at the first trials and had to do it at the second time of asking which took place just before the Championships themselves,” added Gilchrist, who is helping to promote the 1000 pools across the UK offering Big Splash events, taster sessions, and special offers to customers.
“So I was really pleased with how I did in Shanghai considering that I really didn’t have much time at all to rest up between the trials and the Championships themselves.
“Plus, that is why I moved down to London two years before the Games itself and not now as I knew it would take time to settle into my new surroundings, and last year’s trials for the Worlds proved that as I had to do it at the second time of asking.”
* British Swimming’s Big Splash campaign is supported by principal partner British Gas, and supporting partners Kellogg’s and Speedo. For more information on great swimming activities and offers visit www.bigsplash.co.uk