By Liz Byrnes in Gwangju
Daniel Jervis admitted he “buckled under the pressure” after he failed to make the final of the 1500m freestyle at the World Championships in South Korea.
Jervis arrived in Gwangju ranked third in the world after rattling David Davies’ British record at the British Championships in April.
The Swansea Aquatics swimmer catapulted himself into the role of medal contender by virtue of a dominant swim at Tollcross Aquatics Centre where his winning time of 14mins 46.51secs was 0.56secs outside the national record.
Jervis’ fellow Welshman Davies set the record at the 2004 Olympics in and it appeared to be living on borrowed time.
In the 1500m heats on Saturday, Jervis started well, gliding through the water, his stroke long and smooth.
A quarter of an hour later and Jervis was crushed, his world medal dreams over after he finished sixth in his heat and 13th overall in 15:01.50.
Honest and open, Jervis pointed to the psychological aspect of competing against the best and the subsequent physical effects.
He said: “Everyone says training is 90% physical and 10% mental and vice-versa in a competition, it’s 90% mental and 10% physical and that is 100% the case with me.
“Every time I go into a competition that I feel in control I can dominate: any time that I feel I get threatened I buckle.
“That is something I am ashamed to say about myself but it’s something I have got to overcome.
“I buckle under the pressure but I will get this down by next year.”
Jervis trains under Adam Baker in the same pool in which Jazz Carlin honed her skills for many years with Bud McAllister.
He is happy with his pool programme but acknowledges he has to address the mental side.
He added: “With regards to my training, I can’t do any better than I do but my main aim for this year is to work on my mental skills, to work on what walking into an arena is like.
“I’ve done it enough times now, I should be getting used to it, I’m stopping myself from getting used to it.
“Watching the British team doing so well and when I see myself not doing as well as I want to it’s tough.”
Britain has a fine tradition of producing distance swimmers. As well as Davies and Carlin – with four Olympic medals between them – Becky Adlington and Jo Jackson won a host of Olympic, world, European and Commonwealth medals. Keri-anne Payne was European short-course champion over 400m freestyle as well as Olympic silver medallist and two-time world open water champion.
Graeme Smith won Olympic and world medals while Dan Fogg won 1500m bronze at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi, India.
There is hopefully a treasure trove of advice and experience for Jervis to dip into but for now the feeling is one of crushing disappointment after he reached a low point to which he never wants to return.
“I’m so disappointed,” he said.
“I’m struggling to get my head into it again and I don’t know why because I’m training the best I’ve ever trained.
“I am just letting the crowd get to me and I’m too busy looking at the other athletes rather than what I’m doing.
“I dunno. I can take positives from it: I can turn a negative into a positive with that event.
“I am feeling something now that I don’t ever want to be feeling again especially leading into next year but I can come away from this competition with my head held high.
“I’m disappointed with my races but I don’t like this feeling – so much that I don’t want to feel it again. I am going to make sure I am not feel this again.”