Stirling swimmer Ryan Bennett is on course for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games, but not before a shot at World Championship qualification.
Bennett, who trains on campus at the British Gas Intensive Training Centre (ITC), reached two finals at the Delhi 2010 Commonwealth Games and is targeting a medal in Glasgow next year.
Before then, Bennett, in his third year of a Sport and Exercise Science degree at Scotland’s University for Sporting Excellence, is focusing his attention on reaching his first FINA World Championships this summer in Barcelona.
“I’ve already set the qualifying time for the World Universities Games so that’s an option, but my target is to make the World Championships,” said Bennett, from Chorley in Lancashire, who receives scholarship funding support from the University and from national sports scholarships Winning Students.
“Competing in Glasgow is always in the back of my mind, especially with it being in Scotland and I would love to be vying for a medal. Making my first World Championships would be a great benchmark to give me the platform to be there in Glasgow and give me an idea of the kind of times I can achieve at a major event.
“I would say everyone training at Stirling has a chance of making it to Glasgow which would be phenomenal. Delhi was such a great atmosphere so I can only imagine what a home games would be like with all my friends there either competing or watching.
The 22-year-old laid down an impressive benchmark at the weekend with a clean sweep of the backstroke gold medals at the 2013 British Universities Long Course Swimming Championships, where he also helped his University to their first Medley Relay gold medal in nine years.
A squad of fifteen Stirling swimmers took to the water in Sheffield, emerging third overall. The men’s team finished second, just five points behind Loughborough University while the women’s team, despite having just five competitors, recorded a strong sixth place finish.
Bennett added: “I thought everyone competed well and for me, all the targets set out for mid-season for fitness were met. It showed all the work I have been doing is paying off and I felt in good shape.
“We are midway through the season – December was short course competition and hard training – now we’re into long course this is when it starts getting more serious. There’s the British Gas International Meet next week in Leeds then qualification for the Worlds in June.”
Stirling swimmers amassed 17 medals – including six gold - during the three days of competition, with standout displays from Delhi 2010 silver medallist Jak Scott, who won the 100m and 200m Freestyle and first year student Ross Murdoch, who capped his student long course debut with two silver medals and one bronze in Freestyle and Breaststroke events.
Fellow Delhi 2010 Commonwealth Games medallist Lewis Smith made the podium in each of his Freestyle events, with two silver and one bronze medals while there were further medals for Cameron Brodie, Ross Muir and Josh Walsh.
In the women’s events, Danielle Huskisson made a welcome return to form with a fantastic silver medal and career best time in the 800m Freestyle.
From a total of 69 swims, the team delivered an impressive 16% personal best strike rate at the first long course meet of the season.