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19 June 2012| PR 12/108

Loughborough University swimmer bids for fairytale Olympic selection

Jack Marriott

Jack Marriott

Loughborough University’s Jack Marriott bids to clinch a ‘fairytale’ Olympic selection when he competes in the British Gas ASA National Swimming Championships in Sheffield this week.

The 21-year-old, who has enjoyed a meteoric rise to the top, will join Michael Rock as the two 100m butterfly swimmers in the GB team if he can step up a notch on Thursday and post an Olympic qualifying time at the final Olympic trial.

Yet little more than a year ago Marriott was training just three times a week and working out by doing press-ups in his bedroom while studying for an engineering course at Oxford University.

But things changed when he won the 50m butterfly sprint at the British Championships in March 2011 in 24.33 secs, the fourth fastest time ever by a Briton.

He was invited to Loughborough by director of swimming Ian Armiger and coach Ben Titley and, along with fellow Loughborough swimmers Grant Turner (4x100m freestyle relay) and Emma Wilkins (4x100m freestyle relay), he has a chance to realise his dream if he can win in an Olympic qualifying time of 52.36 secs or better. At an Olympic trial earlier this year he finished second in 52.49 secs.

Even if he takes his final chance to make the team he will return to Oxford to complete his engineering course after the Games.

Armiger admits it will be a fairytale if Marriott makes the team. “It would be a fantastic achievement for him to do it, almost like a fairytale come true,” said Armiger.

“It’s one of those stories where you have to have an open mind as he did not come down the traditional route to international swimming because he wasn’t in any age group programme.

“He only started swimming competitively when he went to Oxford University. He trained three times a week, but did nothing in the holidays because he wasn’t in a club.

“And he went to the British Championships and won the 50m butterfly sprint in the fourth fastest time in the history of the event - at 20 years of age.

“He has come from nowhere. We talked to him and his coach and he decided to take a year out from his studies and base himself here full time.

“In the 100m butterfly he has made a five seconds improvement to be in with a chance of making the Olympic team.

“He was fast over the 50 metres when he came here, but turning round for the second 50 was a problem, and he had no training knowledge or any idea of swimming etiquette.

“He has trained with Ben, and Liam Tancock, and is a bright guy. He has got this natural talent, speed, feel for the water- and physique.

“His physique is unbelievable. When he first came our view was that he must have been in the gym but he said ‘no I just do a few press-ups in my room’.

“It’s just a great story. In the past we had James Gibson, who went from nowhere to become World, Commonwealth and European champion out of our programme.

“James did have an age group background. But he was something like 97th ranked in Britain for his age when he walked through the doors at Loughborough before going on to become one of the finest breaststroke swimmers in the world.”

Can Marriott emulate Gibson? “He has got a very small window of opportunity because after this year he will go back to Oxford to finish his degree and won’t swim at this level,” said Armiger.

“So this is his chance. It was a wildcard to see whether it could happen. Myself and Ben talked about him and decided to take a chance on him, and so far it has been amazing. Will he make it? It will be very tight. He needs to rack it one more notch.”

Armiger thinks Turner, 22, who is vastly more experienced, can join four others on the 4x100m freestyle relay team when he competes on Saturday, while Wilkins, 21, has a chance to make the women’s 4x100 freestyle relay team.

Armiger said: “Grant did not swim as well as he could have done at the first trial but since then he has posted some excellent performances, particularly last week in the south of France when he swam a competitive 39.7 secs for the 100m freestyle. He has an excellent chance.

“Emma is swimming really well but it’s going to be a big drop for her to make it, but she has a chance.”

Loughborough University already boasts 13 swimmers in the GB team – Laurent Carnol, Ross Davenport, Daniel Fogg, Fran Halsall, Kate Haywood, Jo Jackson, Caitlin McClatchey, Melanie Nocher, Roberto Pavoni, Joe Roebuck, Elizabeth Simmonds, Amy Smith and Liam Tancock.

−ENDS−

For all media enquiries contact:

Chris Goddard
Sports PR Officer
Loughborough University
T: 01509 228686
E: C.J.Goddard@lboro.ac.uk 

Notes for editors:

Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for research that matters, excellence in teaching and strong links with industry.

Loughborough is also the UK’s premier university for sport and its underpinning academic disciplines. It has perhaps the best integrated sports development environment in the world and is home to some of the country’s leading coaches, sports scientists and support staff. It also has the country’s largest concentration of world-class training facilities across a wide range of sports.

Loughborough has been selected by the British Olympic Association as the Official Preparation Camp Headquarters for Team GB prior to the London 2012 Olympic Games. The University has also signed a partnership with the Japanese Olympic Committee that will see both organisations working together until the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Follow the University’s London 2012 Olympics news on Twitter - @lborolondon2012

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