Jazmin Carlin conquered a competitive field in the 400 metres freestyle at the British Swimming Championships as well as a legion of her own demons to seal her place at the Rio Olympics.
Four years ago, Carlin came close to quitting the sport having just missed out on selection for London 2012. Coming to Glasgow, the 25-year-old found the pressure suffocating and it showed in two earlier events, the 200 and 800 metres which she won but not within the time that would automatically qualify her for an Olympic berth.
This was her last chance on the penultimate day of the Championships and it was one she seized by surging past five seconds clear of her nearest competitor in a time of 4mins 4.33 seconds, less than a tenth of a second off her own British record.
“It means so much to me after the heartbreak of four years ago. I nearly walked away from the sport,” Carlin said.
“I watched London 2012 having had a month or so out of the water and I thought you know what I can give this one more shot. It was amazing to watch the GB swimmers race but I thought I don’t want to be watching on the sidelines again, I want to be there. I want to be part of an Olympics.
“They say that failure pushes you to success and I have really used that failure, the downsides, the real lows to bring me up to where I am now. It has really spurred me on. I have put a lot of pressure on myself.
“I was trying to relax and enjoy the atmosphere whereas towards the start of the week I was really stressing myself out and was very tense. I was very moody with everyone around me. This means I can smile and talk to people again.”
Joining Carlin on the plane to Rio are Ben Proud and Siobhan-Marie O’Connor who won the 50 metres freestyle and the 200 metres individual medley within their qualifying times. Proud was actually slower than in Saturday morning’s heat when he broke his own British record in a time of 21.65 seconds, which is the third fastest time in the world this year.
O’Connor, meanwhile, is also eyeing a potential podium place having held off Hannah Miley in a time of 2mins 9.66secs. “Four years ago when I was in London, the pressure completely got to me,” the 20-year-old said. “I know if I knuckle down now I’ve got a chance.”