Making a splash: Richard Stannard is honing his skills in the water at Leatherhead Swimming Club
RECORD breaking triathlete Richard Stannard is hoping home comforts will help him capture his best form as he prepares for another busy year.
After the disappointment of missing out on a place in the Great Britain team that went to the Beijing Olympics Stannard, 34, has returned to Leatherhead Swimming Club to hone his performances in the water.
And following several years of trekking and travelling to compete at various events around the world, it will be on these shores where the Cobham-based endurance expert will focus his attentions in 2009.
"I'm predominantly going to be racing in the UK," confirmed Stannard. "I'll be competing in the British Grand Prix series again which I won last year.
"The main focus will be the World Championship Series in Hyde Park in August and going for my third victory in a row at the Royal Windsor Triathlon (in June), that I'm calling my 'three-peak' triathlon. I don't think there are many athletes, if any, who have done that so that would be a great accolade if I can manage to pull it off."
As well as his triathlon programme Stannard also plans to continue his outstanding record in the two discipline events.
"There are the World Biathle Championships in Monaco and the World Aquathlon Championships in Australia towards the end of the year," he confirmed.
"I aim to go to both and win both of those, having won them before. I've never done the double in the same year though so that would be cool."
Widely regarded as one of the strongest swimmers in the world of triathlon, Stannard is working with Leatherhead SC coach Ron Philpot to improve his times further.
"We're training really hard," he said. "I've never really been away from the club, but for the past four years I've been concentrating more on my bike and my run.
"But I'm back doing six swim sessions a week now. When I was last at the club there was no one who could touch me over the longer distances but some of the youngsters have really come on. It's a real motivation to have people who can challenge me."
His efforts are already paying off, having smashed the National 800m long course record for the Masters 35-39 age group at the K2 pool in Crawley a few weeks ago.
"That was a nice bonus," said Stannard, who swam the distance in 8 minutes 50.51 seconds. "Although I'm actually only 34 they take your age from the end of the year so I'm put into the higher age group.
"I think I'm quite close to the world record for that one so I'll try and have a go at that before the year is out."
Following his Olympic heartache last year, Stannard has refused to rule out one last Games push in 2012.
While stressing that it was too far in the future to say definitely one way or the other, he conceded the prospect of competing in front of his home crowd would be a great way to cap off his career.
"I've no idea whether I'll be there or not," he said. "To be honest I don't even think I'd be considering it if it wasn't in London, but that is a major draw.
"I'm just going to continue racing then see where I am in 2010 and decide from there."