Andrew Chetcuti Image Credit: Gulf News Archives

Dubai: Dubai-based Maltese swimmer Andrew Chetcuti expressed mixed emotions after his Olympic debut today, despite clocking a personal best in the 100m freestyle and finishing third in his heat.

Chetcuti, 19, had plotted a sub 50-second swim to help qualify for the World Championships next summer, but in the end, he settled for a new Maltese national record of 51.67 seconds, 56 split seconds off heat winner Sidni Hoxha of Albania.

“I’m happy with the record, beating my personal best, but I was hoping to go faster,” Chetcuti told Gulf News, after missing out on progression to the semi-finals.

“I finished 30 something overall, 14 spots off qualifying to the semis. As for qualification to the World Championships, we’ll have to wait and see. There are still many more rounds of qualification for Barcelona 2013.”

The holder of seven national records added: “In terms of experience, this is a stepping stone to Rio 2016 and hopefully, I will have matured by then and will be able to break into the semi-finals.

Games experience

“London 2012 has still been great. To experience the crowd and the pool was a massive adrenaline rush. I was really nervous. For sure, this will put me in the right frame of mind for top level racing. I felt new out there, unaware of certain things.”

Chetcuti’s coach Grant Kritzinger said: “He did really well. To get a new national record and slash his personal best at an Olympics is great.

“A lot of the competitors swam under their personal bests, so it wasn’t the fastest. Andrew made a couple of mistakes; it wasn’t the greatest start, he lost focus and didn’t push off his back foot enough. His finish was also sloppy. He was quick over the water but his turn could have been faster. He knows he made a couple of mistakes and he knows he could have been quicker.”

“We’re happy but you always want more. I’m sure he’ll iron out these mistakes and make the World Championships. The major positive is every time he swims, he’s getting faster. This experience will bode well for the future,” Kritzinger added.