A Putney swimmer has been handed the chance of making Great Britain’s Olympic squad for London 2012 after being plucked from obscurity by one of the world’s leading coaches, writes Rod Gilmour.

Jack Marriott joined Loughborough University’s intensive training centre in March after he sensationally won the 50m butterfly final at the British Gas Championships in Manchester three months ago.

The race was only his second in a long-course pool while his time of 24.33secs was the sixth-fastest time ever by a Briton.

Following his win, the Oxford University student, 20, was invited to Loughborough by Ben Titley, who coaches 2012 hopes Liam Tancock and Fran Halsall, while his college dons gave him a year out of from his engineering degree to pursue his Olympic dream.

“It is definitely a gamble for Ben,” Marriott said.

“I am leaving it up to him to see what happens but he is investing a lot of time in me considering he is one of the world’s best coaches.

“It has also given me a lot of confidence knowing that there is someone who can see something in my swimming.

“I know I have a lot to learn but I am privileged to be in this position.”

Before joining Britain’s elite, Marriott’s training had amounted to little more than eight hours in the pool during term time and even less during the holiday period.

Indeed, he only joined Putney Leisure Centre last summer as a member and still only swam a few lengths a week.

Despite being a Putney resident for much of his life, his father’s work as an accountant for a sugar plantation company has taken the family to Malaysia, Kenya and Barbados, where Marriott spent a lot of time “mucking about” in the Caribbean sea.

However, his swimming career has now seen him take on a far more serious approach.

Although he won the 50m national title in March, British Swimming’s selection policy means that he won’t go to China by right as his favoured distance is not an Olympic event.

But he has a final chance of qualifying for the World Championships in Shanghai later this summer when he competes in the 100m butterfly at the British Gas ASA National trials in Sheffield, starting on June 14.

“If I want to compete at the Olympics, I know I have to get my times down,” Marriott added.

“But I don’t want to get my expectations up at the same time.”