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Fletcher nearly quit pool after London heartbreak

Julian Fletcher has revealed he came close to quitting swimming after narrowly failing to qualify for the 2012 London Olympics.

Believing his Olympic dream was over, having missed the 100 metres breaststroke standard by six tenths of a second, Fletcher questioned whether it made sense for him to continue chasing what seemed an unlikely goal.

He admits had it not been for the support and encouragement from his family and coaches he would have walked away from the sport and in turn missed out on achieving his lifelong ambition of becoming an Olympian.

“After missing the B cut in 2012 I knew the time would be even quicker for Rio and didn't think I'd still be competing for another four years,” Fletcher said.

“I wasn't sure I'd still be motivated or be able to find a club to train with.

“A lot of credit has to go to Ben Smith [the Bermuda coach] who helped me figure out what path I was going to take in the sport.

“Without the motivation from my parents as well I don't think I'd still be swimming today.”

Since his London anguish Fletcher has qualified for three major competitions — the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, last summer's Pan Am Games in Toronto and the Rio Olympics — and believes he has learnt important lessons about perseverance and patience.

“Just to be here and to be qualified means a lot,” said Fletcher, who reached the B standard at the Validus Bermuda National Championships at the Aquatics Centre in May.

“It's a message to younger athletes that even if you're feeling disappointed with a performance, don't let that actually take away from your end goal. “I'm over the moon to be here and don't regret anything I've done along the way.”

Fletcher makes his Olympic bow in today's 100 heats at the Aquatics Stadium and accepts he will have to improve on his national record of 1min 2.47sec to stand any chance of reaching the semi-finals.

“I'm looking for a personal best and hopefully that will lead me to the top 20 or top 16,” said Fletcher, who finished fifth in the B final in the Pan Am Games in 1:03.60. “I'm just looking to bring down that national record and my goal is to get out of the heats. I'd like to get that second swim, but I know the competition is going to be tough.

“I believe the semi-finals are in reach as I tend to do better at the bigger competitions. I like the pressure and hopefully the additional pressure will help me swim fast.”

Fletcher will be Bermuda's senior swimmer in Rio in the absence of Roy-Allan Burch, who fell short in his courageous battle to reach Rio after recovering from a horrific injury in March last year, rupturing his patella tendons in both knees.

Burch met the B standard but was just outside the A standard that he needed to even be considered for Bermuda's squad.

“It's very disappointing for Roy and he's a great athlete,” said Fletcher, who has been competing for the University of Southern California's Elite Team for the past two years.

“Roy is someone I've looked up to during the past eight years of my career.

“He's set the bar really high and he's definitely the face of Bermuda swimming.”

The heat is on: Fletcher has set his sights on a semi-final berth in Rio

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Published August 06, 2016 at 9:00 am (Updated August 06, 2016 at 10:45 am)

Fletcher nearly quit pool after London heartbreak

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