SWIMMING: O'Brien can hit the heights, predicts coach

The Oxford Times: Bicester Blue Fins’ prospect Liam O’Brien smashed the club’s 50m freestyle record at British Gas Championships Bicester Blue Fins’ prospect Liam O’Brien smashed the club’s 50m freestyle record at British Gas Championships

Bicester Blue Fins coach Struan McNeil was full of praise for Liam O’Brien after he finished fourth in the 50m freestyle junior final at the British Gas Championships in Glasgow.

O’Brien, 17, who qualified for the championships in Cardiff last year, stormed through the heats before recording a career-best time of 24.00 secs and shaving over 2.5 secs from the club record.

And now O’Brien, along with fellow club members Kieran Bird and Tom Thornley, is targeting success at the National Youth Championships at Sheffield in August.

McNeil, who had previously worked with O’Brien at Aylesbury’s Maxwell SC, helping him to prepare for the 2012 Olympic trials before following him to the Bicester club in January, was not surprised by his success.

“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,” said McNeil.

“Everyone at the club is proud of his great performance. I see this as a large step forward in his career.

“Having changed how he trains, eats and approaches his races, and as long as he stays fit, I’m confident Liam can go to greater heights.

“He’s a credit to himself and his family, and is certainly helping inspire our next generation at Bicester Blue Fins.”

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

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

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