LONDON, June 30. DOUBLE Commonwealth Games breaststroke champion Chris Cook faces a battle to be fit in time for next month's European Championships in Budapest, Hungary. The City of Newcastle swimmer broke down with a groin injury on the eve of this month's Mare Nostrum competition in France and has been working hard to ensure he has a chance of being competitive when the European action gets underway on July 31.
And, although Cook now says the odds are stacked against him, the 27-year-old still fully intends to be there giving it his all when Europe's best breaststroke swimmers face each other.
"I'm confident it's healed now," said Cook, "but I've lost three-to-four weeks valuable training and race preparation, and that is going to be key in such tightly contested events. In order to do well at the European Championships I need to be down around the one-minute mark over 100m and, given my preparation, I'm not sure I'll be in the shape to do that. I think this year's championships are going to be won by a time in the high 59 seconds or low 60 seconds and I'd need everything behind me with a perfect preparation to achieve that."
Cook is trying to remain positive, however, as he tries to make the most of a reduced preparation and is confident his competitiveness will serve him well if he can make it to Budapest. While training hasn't followed the usual blueprint ahead of a major meet – the injury forcing a change of emphasis – Cook and coach Ian Oliver have looked at other areas of his technique to see where improvements can be made.
"I'm not going to give up and I'll be there in Budapest," said Cook "It's about taking the positives out of every situation and I've been pleased with the work I've been able to concentrate on away from my injury. We've been working on my pull through the water as well as other areas that can sometimes become neglected. Injuries force you to take a big step back to analyze things and that's what's happened these past four weeks. I have to remain positive about this. Just because you can't go through the front door it doesn't mean you can't go through the window."