Swimming: In-form Johnson seeks Euro success

Matthew Johnson during day one of the British Gas Swimming Championships at Ponds Forge, Sheffield. Picture: Lynne Cameron/PA Wire.
Matthew Johnson during day one of the British Gas Swimming Championships at Ponds Forge, Sheffield. Picture: Lynne Cameron/PA Wire.
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Sheffield swimmer Matt Johnson insists he is firing on all cylinders for next week’s European Juniors after smashing his personal best at the British Gas Swimming Championships.

At Ponds Forge Johnson acquitted himself extremely well, holding on for fourth in an extremely competitive senior 400m freestyle final that was won by Olympic finalist Robbie Renwick.

Johnson touched home in a time of 3:49.67minutes, over a second faster than his previous personal best achieved last year and qualified safely for the final of the 200m butterfly.

And the Dewsbury-born swimmer admitted afterwards that he is feeling in top shape ahead of the rest of the week’s action and will be confident of challenging for European Junior gold in Poznan.

“Obviously it was going to be hard getting straight out of the 400m freestyle and going into the 200m butterfly but I have trained for it so I knew I would be fit and strong enough to do it,” said Johnson.

“The main aim was to get the 400m out of the way with a strong time and then make the final of the 200m butterfly and I showed in that 400m that it doesn’t matter what lane you are in, if it has water in it you just swim.

“I am an individual medley swimming so I do the 400m free for a laugh and to have a little banter with the boys to see who can go fastest and it is about the pride as well.

“I wanted to get under 3:50 and that was my main goal so that was brilliant and I am now just getting ready for the next one.”

“I put 100 percent in and it was a good way to start things off ahead of the European Juniors.”

Johnson has already proved that he can perform on the biggest stage, taking three golds at the 2011 European Youth Olympic Festival and a silver in the 400m at last year’s European Juniors.

And still only 18 years old Johnson, in his final year of eligibility for the juniors and is feeling good about making a statement in Sheffield.

“The 400 IM is on the last day and it was just about getting the cobwebs off and get back to racing,” he added.

I would have liked to have got a medal but given the times clocked for one and two I can’t complain and qualifying for the 200m butterfly was good as well.”

City of Sheffield’s Becky Turner easily qualified for the semi-finals of the women’s 50m freestyle on the first morning of the British Swimming Championships, but decided to withdraw from the event.

The 20-year-old swam a time of 25.95 seconds, ninth overall to guarantee her a spot in the evening’s session, but with the 200m freestyle due to get underway this morning (Thursday), Turner saw it best to rest instead.

*This year British Gas is launching SwimBritain, a programme to create a healthier nation and get 500,000 people swimming more regularly by 2015. Visit www.swimbritain.co.uk/challenge