Twelve months ago, few people beyond real swimming aficionados would have heard of David Davies. The 18 year old from Barry in South Wales was certainly a promising junior and a medallist at last years European Junior Championships, but the past year has seen him take dramatic strides forward into the senior arena. Next week this youngster will be taking on the best in the world as he makes his senior debut in a long course championship in Barcelona
A Welsh senior record in the 1500m final at the Manchester Commonwealth Games caught the attention of some, but a dominant performance in the same event at the subsequent British Short Course Championships catapulted him into the collective consciousness. That day Davies disposed of World silver medallist Graeme Smith and 2000 Olympian Adam Faulkner with consummate ease on his way to yet another Welsh record. That swim earned him a trip to the European Short Course Championships in Riesa where he became the youngest ever medallist at that level as he took a surprise silver, again over 1500m.
His talent is therefore not in doubt. National Performance Director Bill Sweetenham rates him very highly, as does his main domestic rival Smith “I think he’s a very talented young man and the way he’s progressed over the last 12 or 18 months has been superb really” the experienced Scot said when asked about the young Welshman, who is only too pleased to return the compliment.
“Graeme is a fantastic swimmer. He’s still going strong and he’s a good bloke to have around to bring me onto this level because his experience is fantastic and his swimming CV is tremendous”
Davies though remains refreshingly modest in the face of such attention. Where others might crumble under the kind of pressure that is being place on his young shoulders, Davies just laps it up. “I don’t feel any pressure at all. I know I’ve just got to get on with it and ignore anything from outside” he says, in his typically laid back manner, “I don’t consider myself to be a Wayne Rooney type character – I’m just a swimmer who needs to train hard and I want do everything possible to achieve my goals”
With such a down to earth outlook it was inevitable he would make waves in Riesa, but surely even he must have been feeling the nerves in his first senior international? “I didn’t feel that agitated about the meet. I was really just going to see what it was like. It was my first time at a senior championship and I was amazed at how it turned out – I didn’t expect to get anything”
Looking ahead to the World Championships, Davies enters the competition ranked 6th in the world over 1500m, but there is no questioning his ambition for those championships; he wants more. “I’d like top finish in the top 3 in Barcelona, but I’ll just go there and concentrate on what I’ve got to do.” To achieve that aim will need another step up in class, but even that does not seem to be an issue “I think swimming sub 15 minutes for the 1500 has to be the target. It’d probably be a bit cheeky as it took Graeme 10 years to do that and I might be able to do it in a year, but I will definitely be aiming for that.”
Beyond Barcelona does he himself know what he’s capable of? “I don’t know really. I’m told what I can do and I do the work that’s needed to get there. I take every training session seriously, knowing that it’s going to affect my future performances”
One thing is for certain, there hasn’t been a swimmer who has generated as much excitement in British Swimming for many years. Davies combines immense natural talent with an impressive work ethic and will probably be a fixture in GB teams for many years, regardless of his performances in these World Championships.