Liam Tancock

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Liam Tancock
Personal information
Full nameLiam John Tancock
Nickname(s)"The Tank"
National team Great Britain
Born (1985-05-07) 7 May 1985 (age 37)
Exeter, England
Height1.83 m (6 ft 0 in)
Weight81 kg (179 lb; 12.8 st)
StrokesBackstroke, medley
College teamLoughborough University
CoachJames Gibson

Liam John Tancock (born 7 May 1985) is an English former competitive swimmer who represented Great Britain in the Olympics, FINA world championships, and European championships, and England in the Commonwealth Games. He specialised in backstroke and individual medley events. He is a three-time world champion and a four-time Commonwealth Games gold medallist, and held the world record in the 50-metre backstroke (long course) for almost a decade.

Early life[edit]

Born on 7 May 1985,[1] his first experience of swimming was waiting poolside while his older brother was learning to swim at a swimming school.[2] Tancock was competing in local swimming competitions by the age of nine.[1] Tancock played for Exeter Chiefs rugby team as a winger until he was thirteen.[3][4] His coach, Jon Randall, convinced him to choose swimming over rugby.[3] He attended Loughborough College where he studied sports science and was awarded with a degree validated by Loughborough University.[5][6]

Swimming career[edit]


As a junior for the Exeter Swimming Club, he competed at the British Winter Championship in 2000 at the age of 15. He broke four records and won more medals than any junior under the age of 16 had before him.


He followed this with a gold medal at the 2001 Youth Olympic Games.


Two golds in 2002 at the World Schools Championships.[7]


He competed at a senior level for the first time in 2005 at the 2005 World Aquatic Championships, where he took the bronze medal in the 50m backstroke.[8]


At the Japan International Open in August 2007, he won two gold medals. The first was in the 100m backstroke, which broke the European record time, and his second was in the 200m individual medley with a time of 1:59.19, which was only the second time he had finished with a time of under two minutes. It was a new British record, beating the previous record by a second and a half.[9]


Tancock won several medals at the 2008 World Short Course Championships in Manchester, including a British, European and Commonwealth record time of 50:14 to take the gold medal in the 100m backstroke. The time was only 0.14 seconds off the world record set by American Ryan Lochte.[10] He also won silver in the 50m backstroke and 200m medley.[11]

Competing at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing in the men's 100m backstroke, Tancock finished in sixth position with a time of 53.39,[12] some 0.21 seconds behind the bronze medal position.[1] He also competed in the 200m individual medley, finishing in 8th place with a time of 2:00.76.[12] His preferred event, the 50m backstroke, is not an Olympic event.[13] Tancock said of the lack of a 50m event, "There is a 50m at every other major competition bar the Olympics. Don’t ask me why, but it never has been. It is not an issue but, of course, I would like it to be there".[14]


He broke his own world record winning the gold medal for 50m backstroke at the 2009 World Aquatics Championships. He had set a time of 24.08 in the semi finals, but improved it with a time of 24.04 in the final.[15] It was the second gold of the event for the British team, who took home their best ever tally of seven medals in total.[15] He wore a bodyskin swimsuit which was subsequently banned by FINA at the start of 2010.[16]


In the 50m backstroke event at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi, he took the gold medal once more, breaking the Commonwealth Games record with a time of 24.62 in the final.[17] He also took a second Commonwealth gold in the 100m backstroke with a time of 53.59.[12] As of 2010, he was ranked second in the world for the 50m backstroke and third for the 100m,[18] and following his success at the Commonwealth Games he was named BBC South West's Sportsman of the Year 2010.[19]

The interior of the London Aquatics Centre, where Tancock qualified for the Olympics and competed during the 2012 Games


At the 2011 World Aquatics Championships in Shanghai, Tancock retained his world championship crown with a time of 24.5 seconds in the 50m backstroke.[20] It was the second occasion a British male swimmer had retained a world championship title,[21] and he became the first man to retain the 50m backstroke title.[4] He finished sixth in the 100m backstroke with a time of 52.76.[14]


On 5 March 2012, Tancock won the 100m backstroke final at the British trials with a time of 53.16 seconds in the event held at the London Aquatics Centre. The victory qualified him for the 2012 Summer Olympics as part of the British team as the top two of each race qualified automatically.[14][22] Whilst competing at the venue, which was the swimming venue at the 2012 Games, he did not find the controversial ceiling and lighting set up distracting, putting it down to the training he conducted for the 2009 World Championships, which were held outside. As part of his training regime for the Games, he took up ballet, kickboxing and rock climbing in order to improve on his position of sixth at the 2008 Games.[21] He also pushed around his coach's car in order to improve his stamina and transfer his 50m backstroke form to the 100m event.[23] Despite this, Tancock missed out on a medal as he finished fifth in the men's 100m backstroke final in a time of 53.35 seconds.[24] He was also part of the Great Britain team that finished fourth in the 4 × 100 m medley relay, where they finished 32 milliseconds behind the Australian team in third.[25] In November 2020, it was reported that Australia's Brenton Rickard tested positive for a banned substance which could lead to the GB Team being awarded a retrospective bronze medal.[26]


Tancock achieved the World Championships qualifying time, but the team coach only chose swimmers who had a chance of being at Rio 2016. As a result of the 50m backstroke not being an event at the Olympics, Tancock was not selected for the team.


At the 2014 Commonwealth Games, Tancock won bronze medals in the men's 50 metre backstroke and the 100 metre backstroke and helped England to win the 4 x 100 metre medley.[27]


At the age of 30, Tancock qualified for the final of the 100m backstroke at the World Aquatics Championships in a time of 53.19.

Personal bests and records held[edit]

Long course (50 m)
Event Time

Date Meet Location Ref
100 m freestyle 48.76 19 Mar 2009 British Championships Sheffield, United Kingdom [28]
50 m backstroke 24.04 Former WR 2 Aug 2009 World Championships Rome, Italy [15]
100 m backstroke 52.73 NR 28 Jul 2009 World Championships Rome, Italy [23]
200 m individual medley 1:57.79 1 Apr 2008 British Championships Sheffield, United Kingdom [28]
Short course (25 m)
Event Time

Date Meet Location Ref
50 m backstroke 23.10 NR 7 Aug 2009 Grand Prix Leeds, United Kingdom [29]
100 m backstroke 50.14 CR, ER, NR 10 Apr 2008 World SC Championships Manchester, United Kingdom [10]
100 m individual medley 52.22 NR 13 Apr 2008 World SC Championships Manchester, United Kingdom [28]
200 m individual medley 1:53.10 NR 11 Apr 2008 World SC Championships Manchester, United Kingdom [28]
Legend: WRWorld record; EREuropean record; CRCommonwealth record; NRBritish record;
Records not set in finals: h – heat; sf – semifinal; r – relay 1st leg; rh – relay heat 1st leg; b – B final; – en route to final mark; tt – time trial

Personal life[edit]

Liam is the younger of 2 boys born for mum Kim; his brother is 2 years older. His "fatboy" nickname originated from his older brother, although he didn't mean it in a negative sense.[16] He currently trains at and swims for Loughborough University.[28] He is a supporter of Exeter City association football club,[1] and Exeter Chiefs Rugby club[30] Liam is now trained as a level two swimming coach.[3] Over his career he has been an ambassador for Speedo from 2006 to 2012,[16] For Goodness Shakes,[31] and Gilette.[14]

Tancock has been in a relationship with fellow swimmer Caitlin McClatchey since 2006, and they were married in 2019.[32][33][34]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d "Liam Tancock". The Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on 5 October 2011. Retrieved 7 June 2012.
  2. ^ Wilson, Hugh (2 April 2012). "Liam Tancock, Team GB swimmer talks about the London Olympics". MSN Him. Archived from the original on 7 May 2012. Retrieved 7 June 2012.
  3. ^ a b c White, Duncan (2 March 2012). "London 2012 Olympics: Liam Tancock relishes the uphill struggle to reach his peak for national swim championships". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 7 June 2012.
  4. ^ a b "100 Team GB contenders for London 2012: Liam Tancock". BBC Sport. Retrieved 7 June 2012.
  5. ^ "Tancock sets new British record". BBC Sport. 24 August 2007. Retrieved 7 June 2012.
  6. ^ "Liam Tancock". Loughborough University Swimming. Retrieved 7 June 2012.
  7. ^ "Liam Tancock – British Swimmer". Silver Hatch Sports. Retrieved 7 June 2012.[permanent dead link]
  8. ^ "Liam Tancock". Sport England. Archived from the original on 11 May 2012. Retrieved 7 June 2012.
  9. ^ "Tancock sets new British record", BBC Sport, 24 August 2009, retrieved 7 June 2012 {{citation}}: Check |url= value (help)
  10. ^ a b Lonsbrough, Anita (11 April 2008). "Liam Tancock gold medal leads the way". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 7 June 2012.
  11. ^ "Brits to watch: Liam Tancock", BBC Sport, 4 August 2008, retrieved 7 June 2012 {{citation}}: Check |url= value (help)
  12. ^ a b c "Liam Tancock". Archived from the original on 15 April 2013. Retrieved 7 June 2012.
  13. ^ Downer, Martin (2 June 2012), "Liam Tancock: A true Brit", Gulf, retrieved 7 June 2012
  14. ^ a b c d Bateman, Colin (1 March 2012), "Liam Tancock has Talent to go Distance", Daily Express, retrieved 7 June 2012
  15. ^ a b c "Tancock claims gold for Britain", BBC Sport, 2 August 2009, retrieved 7 June 2012 {{citation}}: Check |url= value (help)
  16. ^ a b c Gardner, Alan (14 July 2011), "Liam Tancock: 'I would always be in the fields looking for slow worms'", The Guardian, retrieved 7 June 2012
  17. ^ "Commonwealth Games 2010: Tancock claims 50m backstroke gold", BBC Sport, 5 October 2010, retrieved 7 June 2012 {{citation}}: Check |url= value (help)
  18. ^ Knight, Chris (2 December 2010), "Liam Tancock", The Guardian, retrieved 7 June 2012
  19. ^ "Home life in Devon is swimmer Liam Tancock's gold medal", BBC Sport, 17 December 2010, retrieved 7 June 2012 {{citation}}: Check |url= value (help)
  20. ^ "Liam Tancock wins 50m backstroke gold in Shanghai", BBC Sport, 31 July 2011, retrieved 7 June 2012
  21. ^ a b "London 2012: Liam Tancock takes up ballet and kick-boxing", BBC Sport, 29 March 2012, retrieved 7 June 2012
  22. ^ "London 2012: Tancock qualifies for Olympics with 100m win", BBC Sport, 5 March 2012, retrieved 7 June 2012
  23. ^ a b Nakrani, Sachin (6 March 2012). "Liam Tancock stays cool in the pool as he qualifies for London 2012". The Guardian. Retrieved 7 June 2012.
  24. ^ The Daily Telegraph
  25. ^ "4x100m medley relay men results – Swimming – London 2012 Olympics". Retrieved 8 November 2015.
  26. ^ Nick, Hope. "London 2012 swimmers could get retrospective bronze after Brenton Rickard tests positive". BBC Sport. Retrieved 6 November 2020.
  27. ^ "Glasgow 2014 – Liam Tancock Profile". Retrieved 8 November 2015.
  28. ^ a b c d e "Profile". Liam Archived from the original on 5 June 2012. Retrieved 7 June 2012.
  29. ^ "Leeds Grand Prix SC". 7 August 2009. Liam Archived from the original on 5 June 2012. Retrieved 7 June 2012.
  30. ^ Symcox, Johnathan. "60 seconds with Liam Tancock". Eurosport. Yahoo!. Retrieved 16 May 2012.
  31. ^ "For Goodness Shakes Ambassador Liam Tancock Qualifies for Olympics". For Goodness 7 March 2012. Archived from the original on 27 August 2012. Retrieved 7 June 2012.
  32. ^ Inverdale, John (27 February 2008). "Caitlin McClatchey's sacrifices for Olympics". Retrieved 8 August 2015.
  33. ^ "Caitlin McClatchey". Glasgow 2014. Retrieved 8 August 2015.
  34. ^ Swarbrick, Susan (6 April 2013). "Swimming: Games girl". Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 8 August 2015.

External links[edit]

Preceded by

Thomas Rupprath
Randall Bal
Men's 50-metre backstroke
world record-holder

2 April – 5 December 2008
1 August 2009 – 4 August 2018
Succeeded by