SCOTLAND produced a spectacular 1-2 in the men’s 100 metres breaststroke final at the British Gas Swimming Championships last night when Ross Murdoch pipped Michael Jamieson as both men confirmed their places in the Great Britain team for the world championships in Barcelona.
University of Stirling swimmer Murdoch broke the one-minute barrier in Sheffield to come home first in 59.80sec, ahead of Olympic silver medallist Jamieson, second in 1:00.06. Craig Benson of Warrender was fifth in 1:01.01.
A delighted Murdoch said: “I just wanted to go in there and swim my best. I’ve been a bit nervous about it all day. So to swim my best time, a massive best time, and to swim a Scottish record as well, I’m over the moon.
“I don’t think it could have gone much better. I’ve been swimming well all season. Since about February I’ve been hitting personal bests every single time I’ve raced that. The only time I’ve swam the 100 and not done a PB was in the heats of this event.
“My coach and friends have all believed in me. Just as I was walking up to the blocks, I had four or five of them pat me on the back. So I’ve basically done it for all of them. I got a bit of a shock when I looked up behind the blocks, because I’ve saw my mum and dad sitting in the audience and they didn’t tell me they were coming down.”
Jamieson admitted a seasonal dose of Murray Mania almost cost him a second shot at the World Championships – but now he’s ready to serve up some silverware in Barcelona.
Shrugging off a bicep problem that he originally thought might end his involvement at Pond’s Forge, Jamieson clocked a new world best time over 200m on Friday, the event in which he won Olympic silver, and laid down a considerable marker to his world rivals.
Murdoch got the better of Jamieson in the 100m final, but Jamieson’s time of 1:00.06 minutes ensured he too qualified for the World Championships over the shorter distance, even though he almost gave himself the weekend off.
He said: “I think the day that you’re happy with a second place is the day that you retire but that is a bit of a bonus for me. The 100m is always a work-in-progress. I don’t have that front end speed to match these younger guys, But, having said that, it is very important to get that. It’s a warm-up for me at the majors before the 200m starts.
“And I only decided to do that event when the 200m was over – I was thinking about taking the weekend off and going down to Wimbledon on Saturday, so it’s a bit of a bonus to get there.”
Meanwhile, Hannah Miley’s busy week in Sheffield came to a disappointing end – the 23-year-old touching home in 4:10.09 minutes to take fourth in the 400m freestyle before she ended up sixth in the 200m breaststroke final.
In typical Miley fashion, however, she has been competing in a bucketful of races this week – despite a fractured hand – in preparation for Barcelona where she will be putting all her eggs in the 400m IM basket. “I gave it my all and it’s been a very interesting meet with a lot of ups and downs,” she said.
“So I’ve just got to take it as it comes, I’ve got my swim in the 400m medley at the worlds, so the preparation starts now and I need to get my head down and get ready. With my hand, it has thrown things out of what I thought would happen, but I’m really pleased with how it’s gone and I’ve worked hard and I’ve done what I needed to do, and that was make the team.
“The training pretty much started as soon as the 400m medley was over – that’s why I’m racing 100 million races!”
Elsewhere, Robbie Renwick just missed out on a golden hat-trick, settling for second in the 100m freestyle, having already topped the podium in the 200m and 400m to book two swims in Barcelona.
He said: “It’s been pretty good, that was a PB. Obviously, I didn’t get the time which was the target, but I’m improving my 100m, which is pleasing. I’ve got a lot of confidence from this week and I’m happy with how it’s gone.
“I wanted to win all three, but I was close, two first places and a second, you can’t ask for much more than that.”
And in the 200m backstroke, Craig McNally sealed victory in a huge personal best of 56.36 to secure his world championships place. “The time was quite surprising but I’ve been working hard this year and I knew I was going to get a PB. I just didn’t think it would be that big,” he said. “I definitely want to get to the final in Barcelona now.”
• This year British Gas is launching SwimBritain, a programme to create a healthier nation and get 500,000 people swimming more regularly by 2015. Visit www.swimbritain.co.uk/challenge