Record-breaker Burch books Olympic ticket
Roy Allen Burch has become the first Bermuda swimmer to break the 23 second barrier in the 50 metre freestyle at the FINA World Championships in Shanghai.
Burch's milestone swim of 22.69 seconds shattered his national record of 23.10 and saw him achieve his goal of qualifying for the 2012 London Olympics.
The 25-year-old, who was experimenting with a new “straight-arm” technique, finished 28th overall in the 50m freestyle, with only three tenths of a second separating him from a semi-final berth.
National swim coach Ben Smith believes Burch is steadily swallowing up ground on his main rivals and is thrilled to see his hard work paying off.
“As a coach I'm proud of what Roy has accomplished in the pool this year, but it's what he has done out of the water that has been more important,” he said.
“He has created great opportunities for him to reach his future targets of competing in the finals at the London games and setting a positive example for the young Bermudians coming behind him.
“Reaching the Olympic qualifying time and the new record would be enough for most, but soon after he completed the race he started to talk about what he needs to do to catch the swimmers in front of him. That number is shrinking and he will be working hard to reach those goals.”
Earlier this year Burch joined an intensive elite training programme in Charlotte, North Carolina, in his bid to qualify for next year's Olympics.
He has been working with world-renowned coach David Marsh at the Mecklenburg Aquatic Club, alongside top US swimmers such as Cullen Jones and Josh Schneider.
Judging from Burch's impressive times in Shanghai, Smith said it was clear the swimmer's ambitious move was already paying dividends.
“When Roy completed his move from Germany to Charlotte he had a set of goals to accomplish,” said Smith. “It was his hard work in practice that allowed him to get the opportunity to train with the elite team a couple of times per week.”
Smith now hopes the Island's up and coming crop of swimmers take Burch's lead by adopting his workaholic training ethic.
“Watching how he interacted with our young swimmers during our overseas training camp was impressive,” said Smith.
“He shows them an extreme work ethic and focus on the sport that's such a great example for all Bermuda youngsters.”