BRACKNELL'S Andrew Willis said ruefully that four must be his lucky number after another agonising near miss.

The 25-year-old added to Britain's growing tally of fourth-placed finishes by only eight hundredths of a second in the final of the 200 metres breaststroke.

The extra agony is this is not Willis' first such experience.

The Bracknell and Wokingham Swimming Club ace has now finished fourth at the Olympics, twice at the World Championships and once at the European Championships.

He said: "Really fourth and eighth is the same thing. The positive is it's a higher finish than London (where he was eighth). I progressed through the rounds.

"I feel like when I do finish swimming, four will be my lucky number. But I gave it everything and I wouldn't change anything."

Willis went into the final as the second-fastest qualifier behind Japan's Ippei Watanabe and was gaining with every stroke coming down the final length.

But he was touched out, with Dmitriy Balandin winning Kazakhstan's first swimming gold from lane eight ahead of Josh Prenot of the United States and Russia's Anton Chupkov.

Willis' time of two minutes 07.78 seconds in fourth was just 0.05 seconds behind the personal best he set in the semi-finals on Tuesday, which had raised hopes of a fifth British swimming medal.

The Bath-based swimmer qualified for the team ahead of European and Commonwealth champion Ross Murdoch, who was the major casualty of the trials.

There were mixed emotions for Willis, who said: "It's a strange one. I don't know how I feel about that right now. I gave it everything, stuck to my plan. I paced myself and was coming back strong.

"I knew (Yasuhiro) Koseki would go out quick and I was up with Watanabe. I thought he might not go as quick but the outside lanes were obviously where some of the action was happening. I just stuck my head down and went for it.

"I touched and I knew I was up there. When you touch and you look around it seems to take forever. I'm just a bit gutted.

"I was definitely happy with the time and I knew it was there or thereabouts. The gap is nothing and that's what makes it so much harder."