Ryan’s Olympic dream

Chris Walker-Hebborn (Gold) winner of  the Men's Open 100m Backstroke with Marco Loughran (Silver) and Ryan Bennett (Bronze) during the ASA National Championships at Ponds Forge, Sheffield. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday June 16, 2011. Photo credit should read: Nick Potts/PA Wire.
Chris Walker-Hebborn (Gold) winner of the Men's Open 100m Backstroke with Marco Loughran (Silver) and Ryan Bennett (Bronze) during the ASA National Championships at Ponds Forge, Sheffield. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday June 16, 2011. Photo credit should read: Nick Potts/PA Wire.
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A Chorley swimmer has stepped up his quest to book a place in the 2012 Olympics in London.

Swimmer Ryan Bennett, 20, from Brinscall, narrowly missed out a spot at World Championships in Shanghai this month after finishing third in trials – when only the top two qualified.

Now, the former Runshaw College pupil has decided to take a year out from his studies at Stirling University to pursue a chance-of-a-lifetime opportunity to compete at the Games.

He said: “I have beaten the qualifying times for the Olympics already, and two other swimmers have done that as well.

“They are likely to only allow two people to book their place so the pressure will be on to be in there.

“Over the next few months, everyone will be pushing hard in training to be in peak condition for the trials in March.

“There are four people who are trying to qualify, and I was the only one who was studying at the same time as swimming.

“It was meaning that I had exams close to my trials, so I was juggling things.

“Therefore, I am taking a year out so that I can go above and beyond to try to make the Olympics – and not be in an disadvantaged position.”

Former Southlands High School pupil Bennett has been troubled by illness since returning from the Commonwealth Games – including food poisoning, flu and an ear infection.

He has been given the all-clear by doctors, and has been keeping up to date with the progress of another swimmer from Chorley appearing at the World Championships.

Fellow former Runshaw College student Josh Walsh is out in China as first reserve for the Great Britain 4x200m freestyle relay team.

Bennett said: “Josh has had a really good season and he has knocked two seconds of his personal best time which is great for a swimmer. He is making a lot of progress to put himself in a good position for next year and the Olympics.

“I think British swimming have upped his funding because of it.”