Bicester swimmer shines at British Championships

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Bicester Blue Fins swimmer, Liam O’Brien, has returned from Glasgow’s Tollcross International Swimming Centre after an outstanding performance in the British Swimming Championships.

The championships, held at the same venue as this year’s Commonwealth Games, are the pinnacle of swimming in the UK and feature the country’s elite swimmers in both able-bodied and para-swimming events, with many household names competing this year including Olympians Michael Jamieson, Liam Tancock and Fran Halsall.

Bicester’s head coach, Struan McNeil, had previously worked with 17-year-old O’Brien and helped him to prepare for the 2012 Olympic trials. He then followed McNeil to Bicester in January to refocus his swimming career and take it to the next level.

O’Brien qualified for the 50m freestyle event and an impressive performance in the heats put him through to the junior final, where he finished fourth in a career best time of 24 seconds, shaving over 2.5 seconds off the club record.

After a best-ever performance in the Oxford & North Bucks County Championships and promotion to the top flight of the National Arena League, it marks another milestone in an outstanding season for Bicester’s swimmers. Along with fellow Blue Fins Kieran Bird and Tom Thornley, O’Brien has already qualified for the National Youth Swimming Championships at Sheffield in August, and the club has high hopes for sending a number of competitors to the trials for the Rio Olympics.

McNeil said: “Since Liam joined the club I’ve been confident that he’s had the potential for speed, and he proved at the British Championships that he’s one of the hottest talents in the country. Everyone at the club is proud of his great performance. I personally see this as a large step forward in his swimming career.”

O’Brien added: “It was an amazing experience and a pleasure to compete for the first time in a Blue Fins hat.

“The atmosphere at Tollcross was electric, and knowing many of my Bicester mates were watching the final live on TV gave me a real boost.”