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Bryan targeting Olympic berth

CHRIS Bryan will today make history by becoming the first Irishman to dip into the Open Waters at the World Championships -- and for the 21-year-old, it's only the beginning.

A trip to Eindhoven earlier this year has changed the Clare man's whole outlook on the 10km Open Water event and he now believes he has the drive and knowledge to make it to London 2012.

Bryan, the first of the Irish team to take part at the FINA World Championships in Shanghai, competes in the 10km today and 5km on Friday knowing that he's in for a real battle, having taken some punishment at the European championships last year.

"It's a tough sport -- last year at the Europeans I got out of the water and had a black eye," Bryan said. "I went to Eindhoven and trained alongside some of the best in the world and I realised there and then that I had to move up a level.

"I could see that although I was good in an Ireland context, I had to go to a new level.

"When I was there I did 120km in six days; it opened my eyes to the training that was required. I have since had good results in the European Cup series, I was leading it at one stage and in a couple of weeks I have the final of the European Cup in Holland.

"I am aiming to go to the Olympics and after this event there will be two qualifying events where I hope to get my place -- unless I can finish in the top 10 here."

Bryan takes pride in the fact he's Ireland's first man at this level and is determined to make his own mark.

"I find the 1500m in swimming up and down the pool boring, I like the challenge of the 10km and 5km, so much more than swimming -- the tactics, the navigating and every course is different," he added.

Meanwhile, Grainne Murphy has signed a sponsorship deal with a major swimwear brand which the Wexford native hopes will aid her in the Olympics next summer.

The 18-year-old star, has signed a two-year deal with Arena that will provide technical support until 2013. Murphy confirmed her promise by winning three gold medals and a bronze at the 2009 European juniors and last year, she claimed silver in the 1,500m freestyle at the senior Euros.

She will be looking to add to her growing medal haul at the World Championships in Shanghai later this week.

Irish Independent