So much has changed for Katie Shanahan over the past twelve months, she feels like an entirely different person to a year ago.

This time last year, Shanahan was yet to finish high school and was a junior swimmer who was touted as having much potential but had yet to make her mark on the senior scene.

Fast forward twelve months, however, and Shanahan goes into one of the most important parts of the season as a multiple major championship medal winner and someone who is keeping pace with the very best swimmers in the world.

It’s quite a change and one that Shanahan herself was entirely unprepared for.

“I feel like a very different person to the person I was twelve months ago,” the 18-year-old from Glasgow says.

“I’ve moved out of home, joined a new swimming programme and also as an athlete, I’ve grown and developed a lot, gained a lot of experience and won a lot more titles and medals compared to a year ago.

“If you’d have told me this time last year I’d have achieved everything I have in the past twelve months, I’d never have believed you.”

Shanahan’s medal haul last summer included a brace of bronze medals at the Commonwealth Games before the teenager backed that up with a silver medal at the European Championships just a couple of weeks later.

Already, however, the signs are that Shanahan has improved yet further as a swimmer.

Last month, at the BUCS Championships in Sheffield, Shanahan smashed her personal best by over a second in the 200m backstroke to not only become the fourth fastest Brit ever in the event but also place her at number three in the world rankings.

It is, she admits, a rise that is taking some work to become accustomed to but it also bodes well for the season that such a performance was conjured up whilst still far from her physical peak.

“I’m really happy with how fast I swam at BUCS – I really wasn’t expecting to be posting PBs at this point in the season,” the Glaswegian says.

“I had just come out of a big block of heavy training so to swim like that when I wasn’t tapered was really encouraging and means things are hopefully looking good for the next few weeks.

“It really feels mad saying I’m ranked third in the world. I know it’s still very early in the season but with how everybody was swimming last year with such fast times, it feels really good to see my name up there, even though it’s early days in the season.

I’m not sure I feel like I’d put myself in the same bracket as some of these swimmers I’m alongside in the rankings yet – I’m obviously just into seniors and so it all still feels quite new.”

Much of Shanahan’s improvement is down to her relocation to the University of Stirling, which is generally accepted these days as one of the leading performance programmes anywhere in the swimming world.

With Shanahan now a training partner of the likes of Duncan Scott and Kathleen Dawson, both of whom are Olympic gold medallists, there is no shortage of world-class competition.

And it’s being in such an elite environment that prevents Shanahan from getting ahead of herself, although she is conscious of the increased expectations she’s putting upon herself this season.

“Doing so well last year, when my preparation was disrupted by illness and injury, does make me wonder how I could swim if things can go smoother this time around. Being at Stirling under the coaches, Steve (Tigg) and Brad (Hay) is great because they really know how to plan the season.

“After doing so well last year, there probably is more pressure on me but more than anything, I want to prove that I can have another good season and I can back-up last year because I don’t want to be just a one season wonder.

“And so far, things are going in the right direction for me to swim better than last year.”

The British Championships at the start of April, which double as the trials for this summer’s World Championships, are Shanahan’s major goal in the coming weeks. First, however, she will have the opportunity to test her form at the Edinburgh International, which begins today at the Royal Commonwealth Pool.

There is quite a field lining up in the capital over the next few days, with almost all of Scotland’s star names out in force including Olympians Scott, Dawson and Lucy Hope as well as many of GB’s best talent including Olympic gold medallists Adam Peaty, James Guy and Anna Hopkin.

For Shanahan, it will give her the perfect opportunity for one last outing ahead of the British Championships and, she hopes, to finely tune her form just in time for when she needs it.

“I’ve got a busy schedule in Edinburgh so I’ll have a lot of swims but with it being the last meet before trials, it’ll be good to see where I’m at and how I’m feeling. “There’s a lot of very good swimmers coming for it and a lot of international swimmers so it’ll be really good racing these girls.

“I’m excited for trials - the nerves will probably kick in after Edinburgh too.

“Hopefully I can get some of those World Champs qualification times – making that team is my goal for the season.”