SHEFFIELD’S Nicholas Grainger arrived in Budapest as a defending world champion and yet there was a nagging feeling that something was missing.
Two years ago in Kazan, Grainger played his part in Britain winning 4x200m freestyle gold, but – after swimming in the heats – found himself in the cruel position of having to watch from the stands as James Guy carried the team home.
It was something of a case of déjà-vu in the Hungarian capital as again Guy stormed home on the final leg, but this time Grainger was able to celebrate on the podium after swimming in the second leg in the final.
In a race traditionally dominated by the USA – they had won five straight golds prior to 2015 – Britain were able to overcome a slow start to retain their title, giving Grainger his podium moment.
He said: “I can’t get enough of it. Standing on that podium was absolutely fantastic, having a team like this is brilliant.
“When James touched at the finish, I thought I almost took Duncan (Scott) out, running in for the hug.
“It’s the time of my life, I can’t express it in words.
“I made a promise to myself in 2015 that I was going to do everything in my power not to be in that position again.
“As amazing as it was still getting the gold medal in Kazan, it’s not the same as being on that podium.
“Calum Jarvis is in the exact same position (last night); he was a very integral part of this team, we couldn’t have done it without him.
“It’s been two years since then, two years of hard training and I would like to think I did my part in that.
“Hats off to James, it was a fantastic swim, and everyone played their part in getting that gold.”
Grainger’s heat split of 1:46.19 was a second faster than his lifetime best – although not a PB because it came in a relay – and he went even quicker in the final, dropping a further 14 hundredths.
Having watched the likes of Adam Peaty and Ben Proud take golds earlier in the week, he was desperate to seize his opportunity when it came.
He added: “It’s important to stay calm through the week, you’re watching people like Adam Peaty and Ben Proud getting world records and gold medals. So you’ve got to try your best to stay chilled and stay calm and not get too over-excited.”
However, there was disappointment for Rosie Rudin in the morning’s heats as she failed to hit top gear on her World Championships debut in the 200m backstroke.
The 18-year-old’s time of 2:13.27 was nearly four seconds slower than the personal best she set on the way to gold at the British trials back in April.
“I’m a bit disappointed with the time as it’s quite a bit off my PB, but it’s my first World Championships,” she said.
“I’ve had a great time here, I’ve learned a lot and it’s been a good experience.”
Guy was on a high after anchoring the men’s 4x200m relay team to Great Britain’s fourth gold medal of the World Championships.
Britain had three medals from the first five days of competition, all gold, with two for Adam Peaty, in the 50m and 100m breaststroke, and the third for Ben Proud in the 50m butterfly.
Ross Murdoch finished fourth in the 200m breaststroke yesterday before the relay team delivered.
Guy, who had earlier in the evening qualified for today’s 100m butterfly final in second place, delivered a storming final leg to touch the wall first.
“In the (individual) 200 free final I got giddy, got excited and went for it. It doesn’t work like that any more,” said Guy.
“(Last night) I stuck to my game plan and it worked.”
Asked about his slow start to meets, Guy said: “Once the 400 is out of the way I can relax more. It’s that burden on day one.
“The 100 fly, coming into it, hasn’t meant anything, and I’ve got no pressure.
“What I am finding is I am more relaxed and swimming faster.”
Guy even hinted at dropping the 400m freestyle from his schedule in future and adding the 200m butterfly.
You can help the next generation of young British swimmers by getting involved in SportsAid Week this September with five-time Paralympic champion Ellie Simmonds OBE. Find out more about how you can support the week of fun and fundraising by visiting www.sportsaid.org.uk/sportsaidweek.