After blowing away the field at the British Gas Swimming Championships, which double-up as selection for the 2012 Olympic Games, Liam Tancock, the national and Commonwealth 100-metre backstroke champion pleasantly greeted the crowd with a smile and a wave.
Around him other athletes who had secured their places in the Olympic squad looked over-joyed, beating the water with their hands and roaring aloud, while Tancock remained calm and measured.
He can be forgiven for his nonchalant manner though. To the man from Exeter, this was just another step in his meticulous preparation for London 2012.
Speaking with a characteristically calm, west-country accent, he assures me that he is excited about the Olympic Games, but it is all a part of a process he is going through.
“I think if you get too worked up and aren't relaxed, then you don't perform to your best. You tighten up and struggle,” says Tancock.
There is an almost military precision to the way Tancock approaches swimming. A degree in sport science and a handful of coaching badges have no doubt created this methodical approach, but it is his boarder-line obsessive compulsive nature that is most intriguing.
“This is what I do,” he exclaims with an air of authority. “If I spoke to you about your job, you'd be exactly the same. This is what I do and I genuinely love it.”
Digging a little deeper, you find out just how and why Tancock is so precise when it comes to London. A sixth place finish in Beijing four years ago offered a great education for the 26 year-old, but now as he enters the prime of his career he knows the time is right to reach his full potential.
When asked about London's purpose-built aquatics centre, Tancock almost immediately ticks off the key aspects of the pool, from it's lane ropes, to the blocks and depth of water, as he describes his pleasure at getting one ahead of his international competitors.
“When I went out to Beijing, the Olympics were the first time I'd seen the pool, and that's usually the case,” he begins.
“But now we've got that advantage. We don't need to get to the pool and work out small little things like where the closest toilet is, or what's the best way to get to the cool room. It's a fantastic opportunity we've already had and all signs are looking like London will be a fast pool, which is great.”
After it was announced that the 50 metre event, in which Tancock is a double-world champion and world record holder, would not appear at the 2012 Olympic Games, he had to readjust his preparations for the longer discipline.
Under the tutelage of long-time coach and friend Ben Titley, he seamlessly transferred his skills to suit the event. “What they've done has been fantastic, not just my current coach Ben, but also from my very first coach Jon Randall. I still do stuff that he taught me when I was eight, whether that be in a world or commonwealth final. I understand how important coaching is.”
Tancock can be forgiven for letting his focused mask slip slightly when he describes stepping out in front of a packed London crowd. However, his mind is sharply back on preparation, focusing on the advantages at hand.
“It was amazing,” says Tancock, a hint of excitement in his voice. “It was almost like a dress rehearsal for the games.
“We were in the physio room warming up and stretching, going through the process of seeing where everything is.
“Seeing the cool rooms and walking out into the crowd, it was pretty much a dress rehearsal. We've now got that up on everyone else. So when people come to the Olympics, it will be the first time they have seen the pool and swam in it.
“We've done that whole process. We've done the eight days in the centre. We've done the races we'll be doing in the Olympics, it's all geared up in the same way.”
As he returns to training following a week long break, this is the final stretch before London. After taking stock Tancock will enter race mode, ironing out the final creases with various meets and competitions. Hopefully all of the preparation will be worth it. For Tancock though, London couldn't come quick enough.
Liam Tancock is a Gillette ambassador. Gillette’s ‘Great Start’ campaign celebrates coaches and inspires the next generation by encouraging men to get into coaching. Facebook.com/GilletteUK