CRAIG Benson wants one last hurrah at the Commonwealth Games this summer as his reward for two gruelling years of 5am starts.

The two-Olympian will take the plunge today as the British Swimming Championships kick off in Sheffield with the showpiece doubling as Scotland’s trials for Birmingham, as well as the UK’s selection meeting for June’s world championships in Budapest.

Benson, now 27, has had to rise before dawn three days per week to juggle pool time and gymwork before clocking on for his career as a trainee at accountancy giants EY.

And although the European gold medallist is up against Olympic champion Adam Peaty in today’s 100 metres breaststroke, he has thrown everything into peaking for tomorrow’s 50m and the chance to earn a shot at an elusive Commonwealth medal.

“My focus has been on that because I knew I could train enough for the 50m along side my job. So it’s about trying to swim fast and qualify for the Commonwealth team and then try and focus on getting on the podium. It's actually quite an open event in the Commonwealths.

“It's been strange, because all of last season, I was working full-time without doing any races. It was very difficult to try and keep training but I knew I had to keep going otherwise I would struggle this season.

“So it was almost just training to try and keep myself in the pool without a goal in sight.. Whereas now, it's getting so close. It's really exciting. I've not felt as motivated for a few years now.”

His long-time team-mate Ross Murdoch is also primed to hunt a 100m berth in Birmingham this evening and although his decision to skip the recent Edinburgh International sparked rumours of a retirement, the former Commonwealth champion insists he is not yet ready to wave goodbye.

“I just needed a break from training and racing to feel ready to tackle another year,” the 28-year-old said.

With Duncan Scott, Kathleen Dawson and Peaty among 12 swimmers pre-selected, there are only 18 vacancies left to fill on a team for 30 for the worlds, with a new generation of hopefuls bidding to edge out some of the old guard with the Paris 2024 Olympics just two years away.

On the opening day at Ponds Forge, rankings leader Katie Shanahan will look for a domestic title in the women’s 400m individual medley while Kara Hanlon has a medal shot in the 50m breaststroke.

While fellow Scot Lucy Hope faces domestic rivals Abbie Wood and Freya Anderson in the 200m freestyle with solo and relay squads in her sights following her Olympic debut in Tokyo.

“We're looking to take those relay teams to the worlds and I want to swim with the girls again,” the Borderer said. “But hopefully I can get close to the individual qualification times. They are quite tough, but you've got to aim for something. So that's definitely the focus.”