Interview: Liam Tancock, the world’s fastest backstroker

Liam Tancock puts the much less muscled and less tanned journalists through their paces!

Liam Tancock puts the much less muscled and less tanned journalists through their paces!

The world’s fastest 50m backstroker with a time of 24.04 seconds, 25 year old Liam Tancock is one of our brightest medal hopes for the London 2012 Olympic games.

We caught up with him in a rare break between training sessions at west London’s  beautiful Porchester Spa.

Are you looking forward to the 2012 Olympics?

I can’t wait. Ever since it was announced it has inspired me and with just two years to go now it’s pretty exciting.

You are best known as a 50m backstroker. But you will be swimming the 100m in the Olympics won’t you?

That’s right. The 50m backstroke isn’t an Olympic event. I’ve been working hard on the 100 to improve my times.

What are the main requirements stepping up from 50m to 100m backstroke?

Obviously in the 50m there is no turning whereas in the 100 there will be. Getting the turns right is the key element I’ve been working on. But it’s definitely a slightly different focus. The 50m is an all out sprint though to be honest the 100 virtually is too. You’ve got to be clever with the way you race, you need the right training and race tactics to get out fast and strong and be able to hold it so you can come back strong as well. It’s all about being consistently fast.

Do you think we are going to get many medals in 2012?

I think what Rebecca Adlington did picking up two golds at the last Olympics was amazing. That hasn’t happened for 100 years. Really anything can happen. The Olympics inspires so many people, not just us but junior levels and kids in schools. I think it’s really an important time. If the fans are behind us, which I’m sure they will be, great things can happen.

Who are your main competitors?

Americans, Australians, Spanish guys, Russians.  There’s some really good competition out there at the moment. I’ve been testing myself against them for a number of years.

What is your typical training routine?
Well a typical Monday would be to get up, do 2.5 hours in the pool with stretching before and after. Then it’s down to the gym where I’ll do weights for an hour and 15 minutes. Then it’s back to my house for some lunch and recovery. And then two and half hours later I’ll be back down the pool and swim for another 2.5 hours and stretch! Then back home, have some food and off to bed.

Is what you eat really important. Is there a special diet you have to follow?

To an extent. I’ve grown up doing the right thing so it’s the norm for me. You’ve got to eat the right things but at the right time. You can’t eat too close to training but you need to ensure you get the right nutrients into your body as soon as swimming has finished.

You’re a pretty sporty guy. You could have played professional rugby couldn’t you?

I love sport. I’ve always loved sport. I played rugby for Exeter and really enjoyed it. Obviously I swam for Exeter too. It came to a time when I had to decide what was going to be my main focus and I chose swimming and never looked back.

Liam Tancock in action at the Porchester Spa, Bayswater

Liam Tancock in action at the Porchester Spa, Bayswater

Why did you choose swimming?

I really don’t know. My brother used to swim and I had great friends who were swimmers.

I had great friends who played rugby too. But swimming was something I did more often than rugby. I used to play rugby a few times a week whereas swimming can be ten times a week.

You’re a big fan of Exeter City aren’t you?

I’m an Exeter City fan and Exeter Chiefs fan. Both the football  and rugby teams are doing well at the moment and I’m a proud supporter of them both.

Goggleblog's pale and skinny Chris Price with the muscular Liam Tancock

Goggleblog's pale and skinny Chris Price with the muscular Liam Tancock

Finally, when you go on holiday are you able to relax by the pool? Or do you feel the need to get in and start racing?

Ha, I always have to have a pool when I go away but it can’t be an ordinary oblong pool. It’s got to have a lagoon or something that makes it more interesting than the pools I swim in all the time!

Liam Tancock is a Speedo sponsored athlete. For more info on Liam or Speedo please see

See the video interview with Liam below: