James Guy has Michael Phelps in his sights and while he will be an Olympic newbie the Bury freestyler insists he is ready to take down his idol.
In a week where British swimmers struggled with the tough qualifying standards, Guy was the only member of the British team to dip under the Olympic standard in more than one race.
Having opened up the meet with victory in the 400m freestyle, he laid down a marker in the final race, producing a time of 1:45.19, just five hundredths outside his previous time.
That sets him up perfectly for what could be the race of the Games, with Phelps just one of his potential rivals.
Fellow Olympic champions Ryan Lochte, Sun Yang and Yannick Agnel will also be chasing gold and while Guy lacks the experience, he believes he is ready.
He said: “I never thought I would go 1:45.19 so to do that at this time of the year, I’m really happy with that. I felt some nerves but I wanted to do that swim and absolutely smash it to pieces.
“It’s a very stacked race, with Phelpsy boy in there, Sun Yang, [Cameron] McEvoy, Lochte. It could be a very interesting race and hopefully I can put out my best.
“It would be nice [to spoil the Phelps fairytale]. Phelps is one of my heroes, so is Lochte, I remember watching the race of the century in 2004 in Athens with Pieter Van den Hoogenband, Ian Thorpe and Phelps, I think I was nine.
“So to be racing against him would be an absolute honour.”
What Guy lacks in experience, he makes up for in recent form, having won the 200m freestyle at last year’s World Championships in Kazan.
And although he admits that he gets nervous before races, Guy is confident he won’t be fazed by going to his maiden Olympics.
He added: “I remember being in the call room thinking ‘that’s Ryan Lochte, oh my god’. So I have to think of them as normal people now.
“There’s pressure, with an arena of 10,000 people you’re going to be nervous.
“I think the Olympic experience is a name. It’s the Olympic name. All it is, is just a swimming meet with a couple of faster guys beside you.
“The same as a county championships where it’s a 200 free final but next to you, you’ve got Sun Yang, McEvoy, Thomas Fraser-Holmes or Lochte.
“It’s just the Olympic word and that’s all it is.”
Tickets for the European Aquatics Championships – the biggest event to be held at the London Aquatics Centre since the 2012 Olympic and Paralympics Games – from May 9-22 are now available here: www.euroaquatics2016.london
Image courtesy of British Swimming, via YouTube, with thanks