Ross Murdoch cemented his breaststroke credentials at the Scottish National Open Swimming Championships last week – setting Commonwealth nomination times over 50m, 100m and 200m.
The 20-year-old was one of 24 medallists who posted times for Team Scotland consideration in an action-packed four days competition at the Tollcross International Swimming Centre in Glasgow.
“It’s been a fantastic meet; the crowd has been amazing and I’ve been swimming really well,” said the delighted University of Stirling student, who set a British record in the 50m and a Scottish record over 100m, with silver in the 200m.
Scotland has a bounty of brilliant breaststroke swimmers all vying for selection, including 200m Olympic silver medallist Michael Jamieson and triple Commonwealth Youth Games gold medallist Craig Benson.
Jamieson won his favoured 200m and was second to Murdoch in the 100m, again posting a qualification time, but Benson was agonisingly 0.01 seconds outside. Mark Tully (50m), Joe Welstead (50m) and Calum Tait (200m) also collected a combination of medals and consideration times in men’s breaststroke events.
Murdoch, from Balfron in Stirlingshire, added: “Hopefully those three times should be good enough to get a spot on the team, even after the British Swimming Championships next week.
“It’s all about doing it when it counts. It adds to the pressure, especially having MJ [Michael Jamieson] and Craig [Benson] there knowing what they’ve done in the past. It’s one thing doing it when they’re not there, but you really have to step up when these guys are standing next to you and show what you are capable of.”
In both the women’s 50m and 100m breaststroke, all three medallists set the Team Scotland standard. The 50m gold was won by Corrie Scott with team-mates Kathryn Johnstone and Andrea Strachan taking silver and bronze respectively, whilst over the 100m distance Johnstone took the gold, Scott the silver and Katie Armitage bronze.
Scott and Johnstone both represented Team Scotland at the Delhi 2010 Commonwealth Games and Scott is looking forward to her second splash at Glasgow 2014.
She said: “I am so happy for Kathryn and I to have made the time. We train together, race together and push each other on all the time. I was only 16 when I qualified for Delhi and I was in awe of absolutely everything. I’m more mature now, know what to expect and can’t wait to compete.”
Current 400m individual medley Commonwealth champion Hannah Miley cruised to gold well inside the qualification time and also posted consideration times in the 200m IM and 800m freestyle.
Also looking set to defend his Commonwealth crown is Robbie Renwick, who posted times in both the 200m and 400m freestyle, having won the former in Delhi. Renwick was also part of the silver medal-winning 4x200m freestyle relay team in Delhi and his fellow medallists.
Cameron Brodie (200m butterfly) and Lewis Smith (200m butterfly and 400m IM) posted nomination times to edge closer to selection for a second Commonwealth Games.
The smile said it all as Craig McNally looked to have earned his second Commonwealth call-up when he won the 200m backstroke almost a second inside the nomination time. McNally made headlines last summer at the World Championships in Barcelona when he was the fastest Commonwealth swimmer in the final.
He said: “What a relief. At least tonight I can sleep well knowing I’ve got the time. I think with that performance [in Barcelona] there are added expectations which could lead to some pressure on me to do well in the summer, but I relish that, I like pressure and the extra nerves that pressure gives me, which is ultimately what drives me to do better and post fast times.”
Stirling speedster Sian Harkin posted two times for consideration, in the 50m freestyle and 50m butterfly, whilst Edinburgh University student Richard Schafers broke his own 50m freestyle Scottish record and was well within the qualification standard.
Dan Wallace flew in from the USA especially for the Championships and will be enjoying his flight back, having posted times in three events: 200m and 400m IM and 400m freestyle. And Perth talent Stephen Milne went the distance, posting times in both the 400m and 1500m freestyle, with bronze and gold medals respectively.
Other medallists setting the standard over the four days were: Kathleen Dawson (50m backstroke); Craig Hamilton (1500m freestyle); Camilla Hattersley (800m freestyle); Aisha Thornton (800m freestyle); Craig Rodgie (200m Freestyle S14) and Ross Muir (400m IM).
Scotland’s leading swimmers will have another chance to post nomination times at the British Swimming Championships from 10 to 15 April, again at Tollcross, the Glasgow 2014 swimming competition venue.
Director of Performance, Ally Whike said: “Overall it’s been a positive Championships. This is the first of two phase one selection meets and there are still a number of Team Scotland places up for grabs next week. I think we’re still to see plenty of twists and turns at the British Championships and I’m looking forward to seeing the swimmers stepping up their level of performance once again.”
Photo credit: Scottish Swimming/ Ian MacNicol