Luke Turley: 'I was told to be a hitter not a tripper'

Team England's Luke Turley, aged 22, after securing bronze in the Birmingham 2022 men's 1500m freestyle

Team England's Luke Turley, aged 22, after securing bronze in the Birmingham 2022 men's 1500m freestyle - Credit: Peter Byrne/PA

Luke Turley, who paced himself to the podium in the men's 1500m freestyle, reflects on the support which he was given to achieve new heights at Birmingham 2022.

Team England's Luke Turley is back in Hertfordshire after claiming a Commonwealth Games bronze medal in pool swimming's longest event.

The 22-year-old athlete has finished his first senior international competition and made two finals to boot - the latest achievement in his career which began at Stevenage Swimming Club more than a decade ago.

On Wednesday, August 3, he secured a bronze in the men's 1500m freestyle in a time of 15 minutes, 12.78 seconds, behind Northern Ireland's Daniel Wiffen and Australia's Sam Short (14:48.54).

"My coach told me to be a hitter not a tripper. I did not just come along just for the trip," Turley said.

"I had a chat with my coach before going out. He said, 'there's a chance for a medal in there'. He told me there's a time and a place for trying to go for the best time, trying to nail the splits.

"But this time, he told me to race the race - go out and get the medal. We agreed a strategy, to settle into the race in the first 300 metres, then take it 500m by 500m, flat and even, and it all went to plan in the end."

The men's 1500m freestyle medallists - Daniel Wiffen (silver), Sam Short (gold) and Luke Turley (bronze)

The men's 1500m freestyle medallists - Daniel Wiffen (silver), Sam Short (gold) and Luke Turley (bronze) - Credit: Peter Byrne/PA

Turley recalled how his coach Greg Lazenby at Stevenage supported him to regional level at the start of his career. In 2011, Greg encouraged him to join the better equipped Hatfield Swimming Club to access national and international competitions.

Following the move, Turley built a junior career competing in the European and World junior championships - and after his Birmingham 2022 win, he recalled working with coaches Samir Ahmed, Ian Wright and Janko Gojkovic in Hatfield.

"It's hard to break out in swimming. Junior-level finishes at 18 and unless you move straight into a senior team, it can be a really difficult transition," he said.

"I was lucky - I moved from Hatfield to University of Bath and I train at the British Swimming National Performance Centre under David McNulty. That's been a massive help.

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"Dave is brilliant. The passion he brings to training and to the pool - he loves it. When you're with someone who loves what they're doing, it makes it so much easier and more enjoyable."

Turley added: "My mum Paula and my brother Ethan have been hugely supportive.

"Mum would take me to training at four, five o'clock in the morning, then drop me at school.

"My family has been a huge, huge support for me, and over the last couple of years, they have always been there alongside me.

"They were up at the games in Birmingham, watching. To see them go crazy and run down the stands was really nice."

Luke Turley sports his Birmingham 2022 bronze medal

Luke Turley sports his Birmingham 2022 bronze medal - Credit: Tim Goode/PA

Before his medal win, Turley competed in the men's 400m freestyle on Friday, July 29.

He finished fifth in the final with a new lifetime best time of 3:48.50 - behind Northern Ireland's Daniel Wiffen and an Australian one-two-three, led by Commonwealth champion Elijah Winnington.

In the 1500m, Turley entered the final in fourth position - which he held in the first portion of the 30-length race.

But after a tussle for third against his English teammate Toby Robinson around the 850m mark, Turley pulled ahead and held onto his podium position into the final touch.

Turley said: "In the 1500m, there's more pace to it so I could see in the race and when I touched that I was roughly two behind.

"When I touched the wall, I knew I was in a really good position.

"I've now got to keep the focus. Next year, 2023, is a quiet year on the racing circuit but we've got a plan to keep working towards future competitions and I'm looking forward to it."