Marco gets own back on Facebook “haters”

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Just six months ago former European junior champion Marco Loughran had quit swimming following a fall-out with his coaches in Florida, but last night in Sheffield he booked a place on Team GB and delivered a perfect riposte to his Facebook detractors.

The 23-year-old claimed the second berth in the 200 metres backstroke behind clear winner Chris Walker-Hebborn at the British Gas ASA National Championships at Ponds Forge, which double as the last chance to gain Olympic selection.

City of Cardiff teenager Ieuan Lloyd also booked an individual spot in the 200m freestyle to add to the relay berth he earned at the first trials at the Aquatics Centre in March.

Loughran enjoyed a highly successful junior career which saw him earn four medals, including 100m backstroke gold, at the 2007 European Junior Championship.

However, his time at the University of Florida, where he swam alongside the likes of Olympic champion Ryan Lochte and former 100m backstroke world champion Gemma Spofforth, ended under a cloud which saw him leave the sport for a month in December.

He returned to Britain on January 19 and started training again at Guildford City - a move that has clearly galvanised Loughran who also issued the best response to his social media critics.

Loughran said: “Ever since I’ve come back, I’ve had some people in America - random haters sending me messages on Facebook saying I couldn’t do it, I’d left it too late.

“I got through to the final, came back and showed them what I’m made of and I’m so proud of myself now.”

Last night also exorcised the memory of 2008 when he was beaten to the team by Commonwealth champion James Goddard who subsequently withdrew from the backstroke to concentrate on the individual medley.

Loughran is still in close contact with Lochte, the man who has eclipsed Michael Phelps over the past couple of years and texted him just before the session.

He said: “Ryan is the one who is pushing me on in a good way.

“They are just random American girls. I must have ignored them at a competition or signing or something.

“They seem to hate me but hopefully they’ll love me now.”

Former British record holder Walker-Hebborn revealed he had come down with laryngitis just before the first trials.

So, for both men there was relief as well as delight.

The Bath ITC swimmer said: “I’m feeling good, I’m swimming well.

“We’ll see what happens. I am just so happy to be on the team.”

Lloyd was the third swimmer to book an individual spot when he held off David Carry to win the 200m freestyle.

The 18-year-old City of Cardiff swimmer had already qualified for the relay but said: “It’s great to swim the 200 now in a faster time than I did in London because I am not fully rested so it is great to have the individual to look forward to in London.”

However, there was heartache for Antony James who missed the cut for the 100m butterfly by 0.1secs while Molly Renshaw - just 16 less than seven weeks ago - was “gutted” to similarly miss out in the 200m breaststroke.