SWIM Bournemouth’s Jay Lelliott believes that controlling his nerves will be crucial as he bids to make a final on his Commonwealth Games debut on Monday.
The multiple Dorset record holder has enjoyed a meteoric rise through the national rankings since joining Swim Bournemouth two years ago and starting at Bath University a year later.
His appearance in the 1500m freestyle in Glasgow on Monday will actually be his international debut – but he’s already enjoying the big-time atmosphere.
“It’s pretty cool,” he told the Daily Echo after attending England’s pre-Games training camp at the London Olympic pool.
“I really enjoyed the camp. The facilities were insane.
“I can’t believe I’m on a team with the best swimmers in the country, although I’m getting to know them a bit more now.
“This is all a new experience for me and I’m learning so much.”
Lelliott, whose early swimming career was delayed by a recurrent brain tumour that required two operations at Southampton when he was 12, said his training was going “pretty well”.
“I’m hitting some pretty good times at the moment and I’m really excited to get up there now,” he said.
“I feel in really good shape and I have just got to get in there and see what I can do.
“I have a time that I want to do in the heats. If I make that time, I will be happy and if it gets me in the final I will be over the moon.”
Lelliott, who lives at Portland but trains with Swim Bournemouth at Canford School when home from university, added: “I’m taking nothing for granted. In Glasgow the big thing is if I can control my nerves.
“But I have to enjoy what I’m going to do. I’m really excited about what’s coming up.”
Swim Bournemouth have booked the theatre at Canford School on Monday morning so that Lelliott’s team-mates can watch the heats live on a big screen – complete with club kit, flags and klaxons.
If he makes the Tuesday evening final, they will be there again.
“That’s such a nice gesture. I was quite touched by that and I will try not to let them down,” he said.
“They’ve also sent me a teeshirt to get signed for a raffle.”
Meanwhile, former Bournemouth Dolphin Amelia Maughan, also based at Bath, is already a Commonwealth Games medallist after anchoring England to second place in the heats of the 4x100m freestyle relay on Thursday.
Although she was replaced in the final in which England again came second, heat swimmers are also awarded medals.
That heat was her major international debut but the 18-year-old is now hoping for a second medal today as a member of England's 4x200m freestyle squad.
Maughan, whose dad Jon lives at Holton Heath, near Lytchett Minster, said: “Everyone is so excited to race and that makes me excited. Walking out in front of that crowd was amazing – much better than I expected it to be.”
Maughan was European Youth Olympics champion in 2009, when she was 13 and based at Littledown.