FOUR years ago Brian Fogarty couldn’t swim – tomorrow he will power through 2.4 miles of open water in an attempt to become the best amateur Ironman in the land.

And, such are the waves the 30-year-old from Blackburn has been making since he first stepped into a pool in 2011, there is every chance he will achieve his aim after the best year of his sporting life.

Fogarty, the cousin of four-time World Superbike champion Carl Fogarty, will go into tomorrow’s UK Ironman in Bolton having already qualified for the World Championships in Hawaii in October following a superb performance at the Lanzarote Ironman, where he finished 18th overall and third in his age category.

He also triumphed in the Pendle Triathlon and, alongside his Fogarty Insurance Triathlon Team (FITT) team-mate Jack Hindle, the UK Fire Fighters 2up Duathlon.

But Fogarty, an insurance broker who runs his own Blackburn-based business, has left nothing to chance in the lead-up to tomorrow’s event.

He has been putting in 26 hours of training a week and two weekends ago it paid off when, along with FITT team-mate Ian Cox, and Steve Irwin, he set a British 100-mile team record at Stockton Wheelers Cycling Club’s 100-mile time trial.

Since then he has scaled down his training, also finding time to prepare for his impending wedding to his fiancée Maria Mather, in order to peak again in Bolton.

“It’s been a good year and the national record will be good for my confidence going into the UK Championships, which have pretty much been my focus all year,” said Fogarty, who grew up supporting Blackburn Rovers, but was a YTS at their bitter rivals Burnley.

“I came fourth overall last year in the amateur status and that was off the back of three weeks earlier doing an Ironman in Austria which undoubtedly hit my performance.

“This year I’ve not done that and I’m going into it with the intention of being the top amateur. And while it’s difficult in terms of who turns up in the professionals, I’m looking for top-10 overall.

“I can’t see why that can’t be in my grasp. I’m confident after what I did in Lanzarote. To finish 18th in a race like that, it’s something I never expected in my lifetime. It was a massive boost because it showed I can make the next step as I beat a good number of professionals.

“And, having already qualified for the worlds, there is no pressure or stress around not finishing for a puncture or whatever reason.

“I can afford to take a risk.”

But Fogarty has taken no risks in terms of his preparation.

“I’ve been averaging 26 hours a week,” said the Blackburn Harriers and AC member, who has received support from Paul Sloan of Universal Cooling in Accrington.

“It’s tough, I have to make sacrifices. For example I recently missed our annual lads’ trip to Blackpool, which I’ve never missed before.

“I’ve got a supporting future wife, I get help from my business, and it’s a lot of early mornings, getting up at 5am and then doing it all over again after work.

“At times you’re just dead, but I’m lucky that I get a lot of support from my coach Paul Guinan. He’s another of our team and because I train with him, he can keep tabs on me and he’ll let me know when I’m tired and need a day off, because you don’t see it yourself.”

Fogarty has been doing boxing training to improve his strength and regular sessions in the pool to improve his ‘Achilles heel’.

“I’m four years into it now and I’m swimming every day, it’s an ongoing thing,” he said. “I’m working so hard to improve all three disciplines, but as I don’t come from a swimming background, it’s the one I want to improve on the most.

“It is tough and it frustrates the hell out of me, but I’m getting there. I’ll always be classed as a weaker swimmer, but if I can get to the point where I’m in it (the race for first), because of my biking prowess and my running, it could make all the difference.”

So what does last year’s winner of I’m a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here, bike ace cousin Carl make of Brian’s exploits?

“Oh, he loves it,” said Brian, who will also tackle a 112-mile bike and 26.2-mile run tomorrow.

“He’s a winner, he wants to be number one, so he has a lot of respect for what I do. We’ve got this thing that he always retweets me when I’ve done well.”

Stay tuned to Twitter tomorrow...