MICHAEL Jamieson will allow himself a few days out of the pool this Christmas. It might be portrayed by his breaststroke rivals as a gesture of invitation, like the driver of a heavy load waving faster cars past, but nobody can argue that Jamieson will not be deserving of the break.
Currently racking up the air miles on the World Cup circuit – by 15 November he will have competed in Moscow, Dubai, Doha, Singapore, Tokyo and Beijing, as one of only two British swimmers committing to all six legs – Jamieson will maintain the intensity of competition by going to the European Short-Course Championships in Herning, Denmark before finishing the year with a very exciting meet that takes place, conveniently, in his home city of Glasgow.
The Duel in the Pool, swimming’s modestly-proportioned answer to the Ryder Cup, will cap one of the most arduous periods of the 25-year-old’s career. And then comes the real work of hard training for the Scottish Commonwealth Games trials in the spring.
So, in light of all that, it is probably not only allowable but advisable – for mind as much as body – that the 2012 Olympic silver-medallist takes a breather over Christmas. In case you were wondering, this would not be considered a normal thing to do on the brink of a year of great importance.
“I will have a few days out of the water this year, which will be a nice change,” Jamieson told The Scotsman. “But I do intend to keep on working in the gym over that period. It will depend on how the body is feeling.”
For a swimmer who broke a world record 14 months ago – the only pity was that Daniel Gyurta, the Hungarian who pipped him to the Olympic 200m title in London, went even faster – great things are now expected of Jamieson, who has always demanded great things of himself. Six medals from the first three World Cups, two of them gold, then, has been a highly satisfactory return. Such is the modesty of the man that his only worry is becoming too accustomed to life on the podium.
“I am chuffed with the results, especially in the 100 metres. I have been working on speed and power this year and swimming close to my best times is really encouraging,” he said.
“It’s nice to be on the podium as well, although I don’t want it to become too much of a habit!”
There is little danger of Jamieson, who has not yet claimed a major title, ever experiencing the medal-winning monotony that is part of life for the great American Ryan Lochte, like Michael Phelps before him. Lochte’s involvement in the Duel in the Pool has been confirmed and Jamieson is looking forward to showing the big Stateside fish around Glasgow, after doing battle with them.
“I am good friends with a few of the Americans, guys like Conor Dwyer and Tyler Clary, so it will be great to compete against them and hopefully I’ll get a bit of time to show them the sights after the meet as well,” said the Bath-based swimmer.
“The Duel in the Pool will be a really enjoyable meet and a great spectacle for the sport. It’s important to get people like Ryan Lochte over because he is obviously a big draw. Everything I am doing this year is preparation primarily for Glasgow 2014, but the European Short-Course and the Duel in the Pool will be important markers.”
After his Christmas “break”, Jamieson will plunge into hard training for a year that he hopes will come to define his career as much as 2012 will. He has been putting on weight recently to compensate for the muscle wastage that occurred while he was recovering from a bicep injury.
“The trials in April will be a big event so there will be a big block of work put in after the new year,” he explained. “I will be heading back to Sierra Nevada for altitude training and, although it’s a bit of a prison up there, it does work for me so I will be hoping to see some real gains before the specific race programme begins in the lead-up to the trials.”
• Michael Jamieson is one of thousands of swimmers who took part in British Gas SwimBritain, a programme to get 500,000 people swimming more regularly by 2015. Keep up-to-date on 2014 events at www.swimbritain.co.uk/signup