Never before has Sheffield swimmer Joe Litchfield represented England internationally but, in less than 50 days’ time, that long wait will finally be over.
Litchfield’s April will bring about a trip to the Gold Coast for this year’s Commonwealth Games, set to test himself out in a competition unlike any he has experienced to date.
The Sheffield Hallam student’s preparations continued last weekend by competing in the BUCS Nationals, among 6,000 students to descend on the Steel City for three days of action-packed events.
And while no gold medals came his way it was a weekend full of positives for Litchfield, pitting his wits from the best university swimmers in the country.
“I’m in hard training at the moment, every race is tough and this is the first lot of long-course I’ve done since trials so it’s not easy,” he said. “You need racing under your belt, a lot of people from British Swimming are here so BUCS is a very good event to come to in that regard.
“It’s similar to trials and Nationals which makes it a good part of your programme.
“I’m excited, my first senior competition representing England is coming up so there’s a big chance to show what I can do.
“I’m ready, I’m getting the placings and I’m in and around the spots for reaching the final so hopefully I can put in a big push and get myself there.”
This year saw BUCS Nationals return for its sixth year, bringing together individual BUCS Championship events which take place across Sheffield.
More than 500 officials and volunteers made the sport happen from February 16-18, with this the largest annual multi-sport event in the UK. For Litchfield – brother of Olympian Max – this was far from his only BUCS experience, become World University Games bronze medallist in the 200m Individual Medley, in Chinese Taipei last summer.
It’s opportunities like that which the 19-year-old is confident of building on, particularly with big events coming thick and fast in his calendar.
“I had a big competition at the World University Games and had a big chance to learn from that, but this is going to be a big step in my career – hopefully I can go out to Australia and do well,” he added.
UCS Nationals powered by Muhdo is the largest annual multi-sport event in the UK, bringing the best of Britain’s university athletes together to compete across eight different sports in Sheffield. More info at bucs.org.uk and via #BUCSNationals