Jack Burnell became one of a handful of British swimmers to have won a FINA 10km Open Water World Cup medal when he landed silver at the second leg of this year's series in Abu Dhabi last month.
The 21-year old has been improving steadily in recent years, finishing 15th in the 10km at the 2013 World Championships then sixth in the same event at last year's Europeans.
We caught up with Jack at his training base at Loughborough University where he is preparing for the fourth leg of the World Cup in Cozumel, Mexico, where he will aim to secure a spot on the GB team for the 2015 World Championships in Kazan, Russia.
Hi Jack - how are you feeling now, looking back on your first World Cup medal last month?
Yeah, fantastic. To be honest, I went out there for a bit more experience and to race the top guys at the moment. We’re going into a World Championships and it's good to swim against those guys in a high pressure event. There was a lot of money on the line so everyone was really, really going for it.
It was a fantastically organised race. They’d put a lot of money into it and the organisers had done a great job which made our lives as swimmers a lot easier, getting to the venue and stuff like that.
And my experience of the race was fantastic as well because everything we’d planned and set out to do sort of went right. All my feeding strategies worked, my pacing strategy worked. Obviously I would have liked to have won but all-in-all, I was really happy with second place and the second best prize.
Talk us through that sprint finish at the end of the race...!
Yeah, it was crazy. There was about six of us all in, not quite a line, but in a very, very tight pack. And at the end of the day, in those situations, it’s who wants it most. It’s not a case of who is better tactically at that point or who has the better stroke or whatever. Sometimes it just comes down to who wants to get their hand on the wall first. And I really wanted to get my hand on the wall so that’s why I came where I did.
Was standing on the podium in Abu Dhabi the proudest moment of your swimming career so far?
It's definitely up there. It was my first World Cup podium but I've not done that many World Cup races before so for me, it's still about building experience. The Rio Olympic Games is the goal and everything up until that point is about gaining experience and gaining knowledge of the race so when I get to Rio, all those little bits of experience can be brought together in that one race.