Tollcross provided some of Team Scotland’s most memorable moments of Glasgow 2014. Almost two years on, Scottish swimmers were back in familiar water as the venue played host to the British Championships, putting themselves right in the mix for medals, titles and Olympic places.
Just as she lit up the first night of the Glasgow Games two years ago, so Hannah Miley led the way once again, with an emphatic win in the 400m Individual Medley. The relief was evident as she touched well clear of the chasing pack in 4.33.40 to claim, not just gold and the British title, but an automatic place on Team GB for the Rio 2016 Olympics.
Following her usual packed programme of Freestyle and Butterfly events, Miley was back to the Medley and back on the podium with a silver in the 200m behind Bath University’s Siobhan-Marie O’Connor rounding out her competition.
While Miley was already an established star two years ago, for Duncan Scott Glasgow 2014 was a first foray into elite senior competition, where silver in the 4x200m Freestyle Relay confirmed his potential. Still only 18 years old, he proved how far he has come since then with a stunning performance in the 100m Freestyle to claim his first British title, taking almost half a second off Robbie Renwick’s Scottish record over the course of heat and final. A bronze medal followed in the 200m Individual Medley before he lined up in, arguably, the race of the Championships, the 200m Freestyle.
With the GB quartet claiming gold in last year’s World Championships in Kazan – a team that included Renwick and Glasgow 2014 gold medallist Dan Wallace – all eight finalists, four Scots among them, were vying for a place in the relay squad for Rio. Millfield’s James Guy pulled clear for gold ahead of a blanket finish from the Team Scotland swimmers, led by a two second personal best from Stephen Milne, bringing him home for a surprise silver ahead of Renwick in bronze and Scott in 4th, just 16 hundredths of a second separating the three. Wallace, having earlier claimed bronze in the 400m IM, was just over a second back from Scott in 7th.
The result capped an outstanding Championships for Milne – that silver bringing his total to three following second places in both the 400m on the opening day and the 1500m. Outside automatic qualifying but inside the consideration times for Rio, he will hope for individual selection as well as a relay berth.
Ross Murdoch stunning both himself and pre-event favourite Michael Jamieson to claim gold at Glasgow 2014 will live long in the memory and, with Murdoch having taken 100m Breaststroke silver earlier in the week, the 200m final saw the pair go head to head once again in a stacked field including 100m World record holder Adam Peaty.
Billed as race of the evening it lived up to all expectations, neck and neck all the way to the final touch. Bath’s Andrew Willis came out on top but it was Murdoch’s University of Stirling team mate Craig Benson who turned the tables this time with a silver medal ahead of Murdoch’s bronze. Jamieson took 5th with fellow Scot Calum Tait in 8th.
Further Scottish medals came from Camilla Hattersley with a silver in the 800m Freestyle and bronze for both Craig McNally in 200m Backstroke and Rachel Masson in the 50m Freestyle. Kathleen Dawson produced a brilliant heat swim in the 100m Backstroke to lower the Scottish record she set during Glasgow 2014, going on to finish 5th in the final.
Two members of Team Scotland’s silver medal winning 4x200m Freestyle Relay squad at Delhi 2010, Lewis Smith and Jak Scott, announced their retirement during the Championships. Both also represented Team Scotland at Glasgow 2014 with Jak again part of the medal winning relay squad. All at Commonwealth Games Scotland wish both the best of luck for the future.
While Smith and Scott brought their careers to an end, others are just beginning. Scotland’s younger swimmers impressed with a haul of medals in the junior and ‘Target Tokyo’ finals run alongside the senior events. There was a brilliant 50m and 100m Freestyle double gold for Lucy Hope, one of Team Scotland’s youngest competitors at Glasgow 2014, and bronze for fellow Glasgow 2014 team mate Kathleen Dawson in the 200m Backstroke. Youth Team Scotland’s Samoa 2015 squad were also regulars on the podium with flagbearer Craig McLean taking two silver medals in the 100m and 200m Freestyle, Kieran Preston silver in the 100m Breaststroke and Tain Bruce bronze in the 100m Butterfly.
Other highlights in the junior events included gold for City of Glasgow’s Ryan Brown in the 200m Butterfly and bronze for Katie Robertson in 100m Breaststroke.
The senior swimmers now have a wait to see if they will join Team GB in Rio, with the team due to be announced on Thursday.