Tancock, 26, is Team GB’s foremost male swimming hope for London 2012 in a squad studded with female stars.
And he says that coaching he received as an eight-year-old forms the backbone of his challenge today.
“The stuff I was taught when I was eight I still put into practice today – it helped me get to the [100m] Olympic final in Beijing [in 2008],” he told Eurosport.
“For example, a great start in swimming is very important: I was taught to dry my hands before getting in, in order to get a better grip on the bar. Little things like that.
“Growing up I had a great coach called John Randall until the age of 18. From then to now I’ve had Ben Titley. I learned some great things about life from my coaches: they help me prepare for competition and get my body and mind ready.
“Great coaches make great athletes, in all sports. Because of that I’m involved in a campaign that aims to get young guys into coaching, with scholarships available.
“I’ve done some qualifications myself, but I don’t have time at the moment to do any coaching as heading towards the Olympics I’m focused on competing… but I’ve done a few swim clinics recently.”
A double world champion in the 50 metre backstroke, Tancock also holds the world record time in that discipline. However the 50 is not an Olympic event so he will instead challenge over 100m in London in July and August.
He assured Eurosport that as he has targeted the longer distance throughout his career, he is in with a chance of a medal.
“Everything is moving so fast. I’m feeling great and progressing every day and am very excited,” he said. “As the 50m backstroke isn’t an Olympic event I’ve qualified for the 100m and will also go in the relays.
“I’ve never trained for the 50: I’ve always trained to perform well over 100m. I’m improving my 100 with every passing year.
“I’m not targeting a specific position, but if I put in a PB time I’ll be in contention. My current PB is the British and Commonwealth record. In the last five years I’ve missed multiple medals [in the 100] by tenths of a second. We’re talking very, very small margins.
“I can only control my own time, not anyone else’s. If I do everything right – get a great start, have a fast underwater and a good turn – I can do it. There is one shot at it – the chance of a lifetime.”
So what form does Tancock’s own coaching take in the most important year of his competitive life?
“I spend five hours in the pool a day. You have to mix it up: people think you just swim up and down for a few hours, but it isn’t like that at all!
“I’ve got the world’s best coach who’s devised a programme to target a multitude of things. We look at heart rate, race pace, lactate thresholds, turns, finishes, the upper body, the kick…”
Little wonder then that the Exeter native places such stock in Britain training up a new generation of top-level coaches.