The end, Craig Benson knows all too well, is coming. The salad days of combining student life with swimming finally finish next summer when he dons mortarboard and gown to depart the University of Stirling and acquires a few sleek suits for the corporate world and a traineeship at Ernst and Young.

At 25, he has done well to cling on to this world of relative bliss.

“I’m not sure if they see me as a mature student now,” he grins.

His start date as an accountant, in September, is a neat fit for his schedule, coming three weeks after the Olympics in Tokyo conclude. Perfect if the breaststroker can propel himself to a third and final Games appearance.

Despite his relegation out of British Swimming’s world-class performance squad, he remains driven to elbow his way through the trio of Adam Peaty, James Wilby and his own training partner Ross Murdoch. The pressure rests on their shoulders. His feel free and easy.

“Everyone’s putting them on the plane,” he says. “They can only lose their seats. No-one’s expecting me to be there. But that allows me to take more risks. Trying different things or adapting my training. Because I’ve got a place to gain.

“And I’m not the kind of person who likes to let opportunities go to waste. I remember qualifying for Rio and London and thinking ‘you might never get this chance again’. That mind-set took the doubt away and I qualified. So I’ll feel perfectly fine going into trials.”

That he can still make advances was illustrated yesterday on the opening day of the Scottish short-course championships in Edinburgh.

In the morning heats of the 50m breaststroke, the twice Olympic semi-finalist delivered the quickest time of his career.

In the evening final, he lowered it again but was usurped by Murdoch’s reduction of his own Scottish record to 26.26 secs with their Stirling colleague Zak Aitchison sneaking in between.

Still, progress for Benson, who feels on a mission to dispute any claim that he is long past his prime.

“After Rio I got dropped from the world-class programme,” Benson says. “But the next year, I swam personal bests and I got put back on.

“I like proving people wrong. That motivated me as well. It’s an added challenge, especially when the selection policy – especially for relays – has become more subjective. But if I swim fast enough, they’ll pick me.”

Newly-crowned European champion Freya Anderson won the women’s 100m freestyle in Edinburgh in 52.56 seconds but Lucy Hope, in second, lowered the Scottish record to 53.26 secs in the midst of an arduous spell.

“I have an exam on Monday morning,” the 22-year-old said. “I went part-time this year so the work load has been a lot less with only one course this semester and one next semester.

“I still think it’s important to keep your brain a little bit busy and not always focus too much on swimming.”

Hannah Miley took the women’s 400 individual medley title, Edinburgh University’s Kara Hanlon won the 50m breaststroke and Kathryn Greenslade prevailed in the 200m backstroke.

Craig McNally obliterated Gregor Tait’s long-standing Scottish best in the 200m backstroke, seeing off Duncan Scott who will maintain an experimental schedule in today’s 100m breaststroke.

Craig McLean held off European medallist Scott McLay in the men’s 100m freestyle while Mark Szaranek won the 400m individual medley as he looks ahead to the International Swimming League final in Las Vegas. “The training’s been going well so that’s a promising sign for next week,” he said.