Craig Benson is ready for his last hoorah in the pool in Birmingham

·4 min read
Swimming - Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games - Men's 50m Breaststroke - Heats - Optus Aquatic Centre - Gold Coast, Australia - April 8, 2018. Craig Benson of Scotland. REUTERS/David Gray (David Gray / reuters)

West-Lothian swimmer Craig Benson has found the key to his swimming success – and strangely it’s his actions outside of the pool.

The 28-year-old works as an auditor for Ernst & Young alongside his professional sporting career and found that focusing on his 9-5 job has helped him enjoy swimming a lot more.

Benson will head to his third Commonwealth Games in Birmingham as a last hoorah in the pool before he knuckles down on his career and the Team Scotland breaststroker is excited for his new adventure.

With the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games set to inspire people and communities across the country this summer, Benson hopes sharing his story will give others motivation to get involved in sport and turn their dreams into reality.

He said: "It's obviously quite full on and long hours but I've managed to fit my training in in the morning.

"So, trying to find the balance but I’ve enjoyed my swimming more in the last couple of years since I've been working.

"Just having something else on the side, it takes a bit of pressure off both work and swimming. And swimming less frequently means I'm really looking forward to the sessions that I'm doing.

"When you're swimming double sessions, it starts to get a little bit tiring and repetitive whereas now I swim less frequently, I'm really excited to get going.

"It was a difficult decision at the time because originally I was going to start working in September 2020, which I did, but I was hoping that the Olympic Games would have been then.

"So, I would have qualified and swam at the Games then either stopped swimming or reduced it to what I'm doing now and started working.

"But then the Games were obviously postponed by a year, so it was quite a difficult decision for me to make.

"Ultimately I decided it was time for me to focus on my career outside of swimming and I'm really happy I did."

This summer, Team Scotland, supported by funding raised by National Lottery players, will compromise of over 250 athletes, and having secured his place on the squad, Benson is looking for medal success.

Benson finished fourth in his favoured 100m Breaststroke at the Glasgow Games before taking sixth in the 100m and 200m on the Gold Coast.

The two-time Olympian has struggled to get his preparation and performance in sync for previous Commonwealths but has delivered a strong season so far in 2022.

Benson finished joint first alongside Team Scotland teammate Ross Murdoch in the 50m Breaststroke at Scottish Nationals and feels that the stars may be aligning just in time for what he expects to be his farewell event.

He said: "This time I'm feeling that preparations are going really well, everything's going really well on the camp, and I feel really excited to get going.

"Before the trials I was only swimming three times a week and since trials I've increased it to four sessions a week.

"Whereas on camp I managed to do about nine and a half sessions, so I think things are coming together at the right time.

"There's just something different about being part of Team Scotland, it just feels a bit closer knit and family feel.

"Competing in Glasgow and having the home atmosphere was a huge advantage, there was a lot of noise and when there was a roar you knew it was for you.

"And to swim in front of a crowd, I've not done that in four years so really looking forward to it.

"If I perform really well, I would love to come away with a medal, that would be a really nice thing to get.

"This is probably going to be my last swimming competition so to end my career with a medal would be amazing."

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