SUCH are the standards Ross Murdoch has set for himself in recent years, the Glasgow 2018 European Championships could be considered something of a disappointment for the 24-year-old.

Earlier this week, the former Commonwealth champion lost the European 200m breaststroke title he won in 2016, missing out on a medal by a mere one one-hundredth of a second. And to add insult to injury, he failed to progress through the heats in the 100m breaststroke due to being the third fastest Brit, with only two swimmers from a single nation eligible to qualify.

So Murdoch may have ended the meet empty-handed in terms of medals but with the 24-year-old now having had some time to reflect on his performances, he insists that despite the lack of silverware, he is in a good place and can take a number of positives from the past week.

“The 200m was a tough one to take,” he said of his fourth-place.

“I had a messy finish and I was one hundredth of a second away from a medal but that could easily have been second place - that’s just the way it goes sometimes. Fourth is the worst position to finish in and to be only one hundredth away from a medal is a kick in the teeth.

“But it can only be a good thing to be that close to medals when we’re only two years out from an Olympic Games.

“It is a positive to be right up there with the best guys and the times I’m doing, they’re not slow. It’s maybe not exactly where I’d want to be, but it’s not slow and my 100m was actually amazing. That was the stand-out event for me and I can have no complaints about that at all.”

Murdoch last night headed off on holiday for a well-deserved break. With the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, at which he won silver, falling in April of this year, Murdoch has been in intense training for almost twelve months solid with out taking a breath. And that can, he admits, take its toll.

“It does feel like it’s been a long year.,” the University of Stirling swimmer said.

“I got back in the pool on the 20th of August last year so that’s almost exactly a full year of training. When you’re training for that period of time, staring at the black line at the bottom of the pool for that long with not much rest, it’s definitely time for a break.

“So while this week was disappointing, this has been a really consistent year for me. In terms of illness and injury, it’s been a great year so it’s about taking a bit of time off now, reflecting on the year because I’ve not had a lot of opportunity to do that, and coming back in September with a fresh head.”

Murdoch’s next major target is the 2020 Olympic Games, which are now just two years away.

Having made his Olympic debut in Rio in 2016, the Scot is now a more seasoned competitor and, if he can be at his best come Tokyo, surely a realistic prospect to be challenging for medals. And Murdoch is confident that with the margins between success and failure at the level he is competing at so incredibly fine, he can be in the mix come Tokyo. And with British breaststroking the best in the world at the moment, Murdoch has plenty of motivation to keep pushing on.

“What do I need to do to be fighting for Olympic medals? If you knew exactly what to do, it’d be easy,” he said.

“I think I just need to keep doing what I’m doing to be honest. I might not have been quite as fast as I wanted to be in Glasgow but sometimes, that’s just the way it goes.

“I’ve had a really consistent year and I feel like I was due a drop (in time). I feel like I was ready to go a lot faster and my 100m showed that. I also feel like my head is in a good place and that’s been one of the toughest things this week, I felt like I was really happy but I didn’t quite get the results I wanted.

“But I’ve learned to live with success and failure - that’s one of the hard lessons I’ve learned over the past few years. That’s one of the things you have to learn to deal with in sport - it’s easy when you’re flying high.

“British swimming is in a really healthy place and that definitely does spur me on. So I need to get back to training and really start to push the boundaries of what I’m capable of.”