Ross Murdoch believes he is well on the way to putting difficult seasons in the water behind him after taking a stylish 200m breaststroke gold at the 2017 British Swimming Championships.
The 23-year-old Olympian followed up his European gold in the same discipline last year to match his haul at Pond’s Forge, delivering a triumphant finale to end the fourth night of competition in Sheffield.
Murdoch had missed out on qualifying for the same event at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games but, with the World Championships in July rapidly approaching, he is in a strong position to reaffirm his credentials on the world stage.
But the Commonwealth, world and European champion believes he still has more to do in order to reach his best, touching the wall in 2:09.15 minutes, ahead of James Wilby and Andrew Willis.
“It’s been a long road since the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow 2014 and I’ve had a tough couple of seasons but I’m glad to come here this year and have a really good go at it,” Murdoch told British Swimming.
“The time isn’t near my best but I’ve certainly got a decent background of work behind me and I’m looking forward to the next 14 weeks.
“We’ll get sharper on my skills and get an even bigger background of work in ahead of the summer."
This year’s British Championships also produced a 16-year-old champion in the women’s 100m freestyle, as Freya Anderson pipped Olympian Siobhan Marie O’Connor to the wall.
Pulling a personal best out of the bag, Anderson was the most stunned person in Sheffield to see her name atop the pile, coming from behind in the final 25m to win in a time of 54.35s.
“I didn’t expect to be British champion especially next to everyone in the field like Siobhan-Marie [O’Connor],” Anderson said.
“It’s just crazy. I just kept my head down, so I didn’t really know who was around me, and just wanted to get to the wall first.
“It’s good to go so fast at this point in the season. I had a tough start to the year with an injury so that’s really good for me. I’m excited to see what I can do when I’m back in full training.”
The fourth night of action also saw double Olympic medallist James Guy continue his scintillating form to pick up his third medal of the competition.
Guy led out a strong race in the 100m butterfly, stopping the clock well under the World Championship consideration time in a personal best of 51:52.
Adam Barrett and two-time Olympic medallist Duncan Scott rounded off the podium but, with the 200m freestyle to come on Sunday, Guy still has a chance to pack more medals into his luggage.
“I was feeling good. It just felt so strong towards the back end,” he said. “I knew if I got out hard and was with the guys at halfway I had a chance to win it.
“It was a good field. I’m good friends with Adam [Barrett] and Duncan [Scott] and it was a good race. I’ve got the 200m free on Sunday so hopefully that’ll be a good one.”
The first victory of the night went to Rosie Rudin in the 200m backstroke, with the Sheffield swimmer delivering a starring performance in front of her home crowd to become British champion.