COLCHESTER Swimming Club member Laura Stephens wants to rise to the occasion when she competes at the World Championships, in South Korea.

The talented 20-year-old is hoping to make a big impression among the world’s elite as she competes in the women’s butterfly, in Gwangju.

Stephens, who is from Wix and is now based at Plymouth Leander, gets her first long course World Championships challenge underway this weekend.

And the former Colchester County High School for Girls pupil is hoping to make a positive impact, on the global stage.

She told the Gazette: “This will be my first Long Course World Championships, so it’s all going to be quite new and I don’t really know what to expect.

“It will be case of sticking to what I normally do as much as possible.

“I have a plan with my coach Mel Marshall and I’ll try and keep everything as familiar as possible.

“But I’ll also take all of the experience that I’ve had at the Commonwealth Games and the European Championships with me into this event.

“I’m really excited and I’m looking forward to competing with a lot of the top athletes and I’m looking to rise to the occasion.

“I think it will be quite close – it’s small margins at this level and it’ll be the 12 top swimmers going for it.

“I’m looking to improve on the time I achieved at the British Championships, because that was a new PB for me.”

Stephens had warmed up for next month's World Championships with an impressive performance in last month’s Mare Nostrum Swim Series.

She performed well on her Great Britain Long Course debut, after competing in France and Spain.

“The preparations have been going very well,” she said.

“The Mare Nostrum series was very beneficial – it was more about how I swam in races rather than times.

“It was more like a training exercise the whole time and it also helps achieve the team togetherness before travelling to South Korea.”

Stephens, along with her Great Britain team-mates, know that a good performance at the World Championships will boost their chances of competing at next year’s Tokyo Olympics.

She said: “The next level is the Olympics for me and I hope to take the experience of competing at the World Championships into qualifying for the Olympic team, next year.”

Stephens’ early swimming career flourished at Colchester SC and she says knowing she will be cheered on by the club when she competes at the World Championships is a big boost.

She added: “It’s great that everyone back at home will be watching.

“The support I get from Colchester Swimming Club is wonderful and it always surprises me, as I never expect everyone to be as involved.”