DEWSBURY’S Matthew Johnson stepped on to the podium at the British Gas Swimming Championships after experiencing first hand last week the London Aquatics Centre – the venue for this summer’s Olympic Games.
Johnson collected a bronze medal in the 400m individual medley after clocking 4.16.53 minutes, missing out on an automatic spot at this summer’s Olympic Games by just one position.
Big-name Brit Robert Pavoni took the gold medal in 4.12.43 minutes, with Joe Roebuck taking the silver medal. Johnson, 16, also forced his way into the final of the 200m butterfly, where he finished sixth, while he failed to progress through qualifying in the 200m individual medley and similarly suffered the same troubles in the 1500m freestyle.
But after experiencing the atmosphere that awaits the Team GB swimmers at this summer’s Olympic Games at the London Aquatics Centre – Johnson was pleased with his week’s work.
“It is tough especially in the 200m against the older guys. Being just 16, you are under developed compared to them but if you can do it and learn from the experiences of the swim, that’s all you can ask for,” said Johnson. “The experience is going to be massively important for me going forward; I have never done it like this before.
“Being in the Olympic pool, it is all a learning curve for me. Next year is about trying to win more medals and better colours. That is what I want to achieve.”
There is still a chance for British swimmers to qualify for this summer’s Olympic Games at June’s ASA Nationals for any event where a position remains open.
And despite not ruling out his appearance still at London 2012 – Johnson admits he has his eyes firmly focussed on the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in 2014.
“It has been a good week for Sheffield on the whole, we already have the three swimmers on the Olympic team so far and we hopefully will get a few more come June,” added Johnson.
“I am looking towards the Commonwealth Games primarily but if I don’t make the Olympics, which touch wood I still will.
“I’ll look to it to get the 1-2 position, obviously in England, but if not in one of my events come 2014.”
For fellow Dewsbury-born swimmer Kate Hutchinson it was a week of big effort but having no reward at the end of it for the University of Loughborough student.
She was seventh in the 200m Butterfly after winning a swim-off.
Kate also reached the semi-finals of the 200m Breaststorke and the 200m Individual Medley event.
n British Gas supports swimming at all levels and is getting the nation to show its support for Britain’s swimmers. For more information visit www.facebook.com/BGSwimming.