Liam Tancock

Liam Tancock Biography

Swimmer, Athlete (1985–)
British swimmer Liam Tancock is a world record holder in the 50-meter and 100-meter backstroke events.


Born in 1985, Liam Tancock got his start as a swimmer with the Exter City Swimming Club. He won a gold medal at the 2003 European Junior Championships in the 50-meter backstroke, and then competed at the 2008 Olympics, coming in sixth in his event. In 2009, he set a new record for the 50-meter backstroke, and went on to win the 50-meter backstroke event at the 2011 World Championships. Tancock came close to winning an Olympic medal at the 2012 Olympic Games in London, placing fifth in the 100-meter backstroke (53.35 seconds) and fourth—with Britain's men's swimming team—in the 4-by-100-meter medley relay.

Early Life

The son of a teaching assistant and building company director, Liam Tancock learned to swim around the age of 5. He started competing when he was 8, with the Exeter City Swimming Club. While he loved both swimming and playing rugby growing up, he decided to focus on swimming in his mid-teens.

Tancock soon proved to be a tough competitor. In 2001, he won three bronze medals at the 6 Nations Junior International event. Two years later, he won a gold medal at the European Junior Championships in one of his top events, the 50-meter backstroke. He also brought home a silver medal for the 100-meter backstroke.

World-Class Swimmer

In 2008, Tancock competed at the Olympic Games in Beijing, China. He came in a disappointing sixth place in the men's 100-meter backstroke finals. It was such a tight race that he only missed a bronze medal by about two-tenths of a second. The following year, Tancock set a new world record in the 50-meter backstroke at the World Championships, held in Rome.

Tancock has continued to thrive at his sport. He won the 50-meter backstroke title at the 2011 World Championships, and won his place on the British Olympic Swim Team the following year. He then set a new world record for the 100-meter backstroke during his country's 2012 Olympic trials. "I don't look at there being extra pressure at London in 2012, I look at it as an exciting time," he told The Telegraph.

While Tancock had a strong performance at the 2012 Olympic Games in London, he didn't bring home any Olympic medals; he placed fifth in the 100-meter backstroke (53.35 seconds) and fourth—with Britain's men's swimming team—in the 4-by-100-meter medley relay. In an interview with The Telegraph, Tancock said he wasn't incredibly disappointed about his Olympic results: "Some people will go away and say you weren’t quite quick enough this time," he said. "I figure I did well and I got among the top five in the world. I'm a racer. Most of these guys are setting massive times in the training pool, which I’m doing as well. The connection is trying to do that in the pool."

Out of the Pool

Tancock is a sports science student at Loughborough University. He is currently dating fellow swimmer Caitlin McClatchey. She competed at the 2012 Olympics as well, in the women's 200-meter freestyle event.

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