WHEN he talks about the future, Chris Bryan doesn’t mind setting big goals and openly says he is in with a chance of taking home an Olympic medal from Rio.
The 23-year-old Shannon swimmer finished 16th in the FINA World Open Water Championships in Barcelona just a few weeks ago and he followed it up with a seventh place finish at the World University Games in Russia.
Coming 16th in the world came at the back of a difficult year’s preparation, he says, while the World Championships are actually more competitive than the Olympics in his eyes.
“When you look at the field, it was a hell of a race, everyone was there. In the Olympics its only a 25 man final, in the World Championship there are 70 guys, they’re the best in the world, there’s two per nation whereas in the Olympics a lot of the time it’s just one per nation that qualifies. Countries like Germany, Australia and America, their two best were there.
“If you look at the time I was only 20 seconds off the gold medal, 14 off the bronze, I was only about four seconds off eighth place. Having said that it could have gone the other way as well. You don’t want to be overanalysing-take the result for what it is. It was 16th in the world after what wasn’t an ideal year, trying to finish my degree and with a change of course this year.”
He will be taking a fortnight off once he gets a few more races out of the way. “There’s a European Cup race in two weeks, just to keep the body moving. The major one is in four weeks time when I go to Poland for a 20km race, it’s kind of a double race distance and I think it’ll be interesting to see how my body holds up, what kind of condition I’m in finishing the season.”
Bryan came out the wrong side of a photo finish and just missed out on competing in the London Olympics. Although disappointed at the time, he has another perspective now and feels he will be far more competitive in 2016 than he would have been last year.
“If someone said to me if you put in all the same training, went to the Olympics and just swam, and were somewhere in the middle would you keep going, I wouldn’t. I’m not interested in just going and making up numbers. If I had gone to London I probably would have done quite well but I wouldn’t really have had a chance of being in the medals. The experience would have stood to me but with Rio I’m looking at how good can I do, I’m going to compete.”