Scottish swimmer Ross Murdoch says a personal best in the 200m breaststroke would represent success for him at the World Aquatics Championships in Gwangju.
Murdoch has spoken publically of his desire to emerge from the shadow of a breakout, British-record setting swim at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games in 2014.
The 2:07.30 set by the then-20-year-old catapulted him into the limelight and he subsequently struggled with the weight of the gold medal it earned him.
However, after mental and physical problems which hurt his form, Murdoch, 24, is aiming for the Tokyo Olympics next year. He earned a silver medal at the Commonwealth Games in Australia last year and Gwangju is another chance to show he has “more to give”.
Murdoch said: “Success for me looks like a personal best time I’ve been looking for since 2014.
“That swim at the minute still defines my career.
“I think the result will always define me, not only from a media point of view, from a spectator point of view, but from my own personal point of view – there can’t be much to top that swim.
“But, in terms of the time, I’m not very happy I peaked at 20. I still feel like I’ve got more to give.
“I’ll be going in thinking about the work I’ve done. I’ve been working hard on my underwaters this year and it’s really going to be the small things that make the big difference for me this summer.
“Executing the small things on the night and I only have the 200 to focus on this time round – no distractions.”
Among the lows for Murdoch was a disappointing showing at the Rio Olympics in 2016, where he finished ninth in the 100m breaststroke, an event he came third in at this year’s British Championships. He won silvers at Tollcross in Glasgow – the scene of his 2014 moment – over the 50 and 200.
Murdoch thinks he’s learned in recent months to get more out of his body and work around physical limitations.
He said: “I don’t think I’ve ever had a consistent block like this, it’s been really, really good. I say this pretty much every year, ‘I’ll put in a really consistent block’, but it’s been more consistent year on year over the past four years now.
“This year I’ve put a big focus on not hitting the pool every day or trying to train the hardest, but being the smartest about my training.
“I’ve always had problems with right side of my body. I’ve got a bad shoulder on that side and a bad knee. It was all about working on shoulder health and knee health this year to make sure my overall consistency picks up a small level year on year.
“We were training a bit better this year and it’s a really good stepping stone for the Olympic year.”
Murdoch’s final race before the worlds was at the Aberdeen Sports Village Aquatics Centre-hosted Scottish Open Championships.
After winning the 200m breaststroke at the centre, Murdoch said: “This week I start my taper. I’m going to ramp up the intensity and I really need to be able to hit it.”