Fenland swimming star smashes personal bests as he competes against Olympic hero Liam Tancock

TEENAGE swimming sensation Liam Knight competed against his Olympic hero at the ASA Championships - just months after glandular fever almost forced him to quit the sport.

The 16-year-old, from Wisbech, smashed four personal bests in four swims at the championships in Sheffield last week. In the 50m backstroke heats, he finished just over two seconds behind his swimming idol; world-record-holding champion Liam Tancock.

The success marks a miraculous comeback from Knight, who was forced to consider quitting swimming altogether last year as he battled glandular fever.

“It’s a miracle that I’m swimming the times that I am now,” he said. “I was literally at breaking point four months ago but suddenly things got better and I pushed through.

“I can’t put it into words how it made me feel to compete against the top swimmers - I love it. I’m so privileged to be able to swim against them.

“These guys are 10 years older than me. I’ve got a long way to go but I feel like I’m getting to their level. I’m swimming faster than Tancock was at this age.

“I look up to Liam (Tancock) and I’m inspired by him. He has been helping me out with tips and he’s a really nice guy.

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“Before the race I went to sign in and Liam signed in at exactly the same time. We got chatting and he told me that Liam was a good name. I joked with him that all the best backstrokers are called Liam.”

Knight’s time of 27.52 in the 50m backstroke was good enough to see him finish 15th overall but second in his age group.

Fine swims in the 100m and 200m backstroke saw him claim first place in both for his age, while he finished second in his age group in the 400m Individual Medley.

Ian Knight, Liam’s father, said: “It’s amazing to see him in the pool with these swimmers. I’m really proud and it’s fantastic experience for him.

“His head is in the right place and his coach has got big hopes for him at the Youth Championships next month.”

The talented teenager - who was named as the first winner in the Fenland Sports Stars of the Future Campaign in April - said he also has his sights set on the 2016 Olympics.

The sports stars campaign, run by Fenland District Council in conjunction with the Cambs Times/Wisbech Standard, gives Knight free use of all council leisure facilities.

Knight added: “I have been hitting the gym hard at Wisbech - doing nine sessions and about 24 hours of training a week, I do my sleeping at school at the moment.

“I wouldn’t be doing it if I didn’t want it so much.”