“It’s a dream come true for me, excited doesn’t add up to how I’m feeling right now” says Chloe Tutton, with a smile so wide that you get the impression it hasn’t left her face since the Olympic trials in Glasgow. “It’s always been a dream of mine since being a little girl to make the Olympic team and for it to come so soon it’s just great. I had in mind Tokyo, but for it to come four years earlier is just overwhelming.”
One look at her official British Swimming biography page illustrates just why that may be the case; listed under ambition, just one line ”to be an Olympian”. Well that she now is, as the nineteen year old from City of Cardiff cemented her place in Rio with a trials win in the 200m breaststroke that also saw the British Record broken with a three second lifetime best. Not that the signposts for that performance weren’t there.
Tutton came into 2016 with a best time of 2:26.76 from last year’s trials, but had already cut that twice, in Melbourne and Marseille, before taking to the blocks in Glasgow with a best of 2:25.67, and expecting more. “Well, we knew that with my times dropping in hard training early on in the season that we were in for a big one at trials” is the matter-of-fact assessment, not that knowing you are in the shape of your life makes things any easier. “The anticipation of waiting to get to those trials was incredible and the nerves were bubbling weeks and weeks before. So finally to have competed and have done such a great time, and then to have qualified it’s great.”
“Great time” could be labelled as something of an understatement. Her 2:22.34 would have won silver at last year’s world championships, and cut over a second from the national record, but even so was still outside the automatic qualification mark, one of the toughest on the British selection policy. Tutton didn’t see it as a problem. “I think those times were just a goal for me, that’s where I want to be” she says. “To be so close to it is great, so that’s just kind of an extra push for me because that’s where I want to be as soon as possible. So I’ll keep pushing myself to exceed those expectations.” But just missing out did make for a few more of those bubbling nerves. “I did doubt myself a few times, but I put myself in a good enough position so I still had that dream” she recalls before adding a dose of reality back to proceedings “I was just happy with my PB if I’m honest!“
From Glasgow it was off to London and the European Championships for her senior British international debut, following on from her appearance at the 2014 Commonwealth Games for Wales. And there was no hangover from trials with a PB in the 100m breaststroke which led to a bronze medal, world class times in the 200 and a starring role in the medley relay. “I came to London knowing that I was going to have to swim tough and the training and competing was going to be super hard to just tackle, but I went in with a focus on just doing what you can, don’t worry about what condition you’re in; just race, race tough and just get yourself in a good position. I pulled off that in the hundred breaststroke and I was so delighted for that PB”.
The relay which brought gold amongst a maelstrom of home support, though, was something else. “It was an incredible experience, all the crowd were so loud, they were raising the roof off and just to be in that team with the girls by my side, it was just an amazing, exciting experience” she says, before aiming her sights immediately higher. “I hope that in Rio we can do the same again.”
There is time to go before the Olympic experience is added to the Tutton CV, but nothing much will change in that period back in training with coach Graeme Wardell. “We won’t switch anything up, I think it would be silly to do that right now” she notes. “It will be just focusing on myself, my technique and training really hard, just doing what I do best, getting to Rio and racing” she concludes, before one more reminder and another smile. “I can’t wait for it. It’s going to be a dream come true.”