Back in 2003, Hall was lining up at swimming meets alongside Olympic champion Rebecca Adlington as part of British Swimming’s world-class potential programme.
At 11, he was ranked No1 in all freestyle distances, 50m through to 1500m and before long his ever-increasing medal tally caught the eye of tough-talking Australian Bill Sweetenham, who coached Britain for seven years until 2007.
“I thrived off winning, beating records and the attention. I was fascinated with human evolution and progress,” Hall says. “I was looking up to my hero Mark Foster and Olympic gold medallists, saying that I would one day be there.”
However, Hall claims Sweetenham “meddled” with his freestyle technique. “From an enjoyable 14 hours per week, it ramped up to 20 hours and if you didn’t do it, you would be chucked off the squad,” he recalls.
“There was so much pressure at a young age. It was Sweetenham who bullied the swimmers, coaches and ruined it for 90 per cent of the swimmers there. I hated it.
“I genuinely believe that if he hadn’t come along I would be an Olympic gold medallist, I seriously do. I was that determined.”
Sweetenham was later cleared of bullying allegations, although one report suggesting 13 Olympians retired because of his no-nonsense approach.