Ace Ben hits the big time

Ben Martin enjoyed his experience

Ben Martin enjoyed his experience

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Leyland Barracudas’ Ben Martin has enjoyed a taste of the big time after he qualified for the British Swimming Championships at the London Aquatic Centre.

Martin, 15, became the first Barracudas’ swimmer in their 40-year history to be eligible for an event at this level.

He qualified for the 50m and 100m freestyle events, and competed against the top swimmers in the UK, including the British record holder Benjamin Proud.

Martin swam his 100m freestyle first and even though he did not do as well as he expected, it was a great opportunity for him to become familiar with the prestigious venue and get his nerves under control before he competed in his favourite event, the 50m freestyle.

Two days later he was back in the pool for that event, racing in the first heat which he won with a new personal best time of 24.83 seconds.

This put Martin in 14th place out of 51 swimmers in the 15 and 16-year-old age group, just missing out on a place in the final by 0.16 of a second.

Martin’s time was only 0.6 seconds slower than the eventual overall event winner in this age group.

Making the final would have given him a chance to go forward to swim in the youth Olympics for the GB team.

Martin’s new time of 24.83 seconds now puts him in fourth place in the 15-year-old age group in Great Britain.

This is quite an achievement considering he left Leyland Barracudas and gave up swimming completely two years ago and only came back to training in September after a 16-month break.

Gillian Rankin, Leyland Barracudas’ head coach, who supported him in London, said; “It was a brilliant swim, which bodes well for the future, as Ben was third in the 15-year-olds, and he just keeps getting faster.”

Martin said: “Even though a final would have been nice, I still had an amazing time and look forward to hopefully qualifying again next year.”