Ross Murdoch showed Great Britain’s embarrassment of breaststroke riches by winning 200 metres gold at the European Championships in an event for which he has not earned Olympic selection.
Striling’s Murdoch held off a late charge by world champion Marco Koch of Germany to win gold, while there were four further medals for Britain’s swimmers, who are in heavy training throughout the competition at London’s Aquatics Centre.
Jazz Carlin claimed silver in the 800m freestyle, Siobhan O’Connor silver and Hannah Miley bronze in the 200m individual medley and Kathleen Dawson bronze in the 100m backstroke.
Commonwealth Games champion Murdoch took silver two years ago in Berlin behind Koch, but, despite his triumph in home waters, he will not compete over 200m in August’s Olympics.
Andrew Willis and Craig Benson finished ahead of Murdoch at last month’s British Championships in Glasgow, which doubled up as the Olympic trials.
Murdoch, selected alongside world and European champion Adam Peaty in the 100m breaststroke, clocked two minutes 8.33 seconds, with Koch 0.07secs behind, and afterwards was magnanimous about his Olympic place.
“At the minute Rio’s not happening for me in the 200m breaststroke, because I failed to qualify,” Murdoch said.
“That’s why Britain’s one of the best swimming nations in the world, because we’ve got the hardest qualification processes.
“I always knew I was world class in this event. I didn’t have a bad week in trials. I was off my best in both of my events.”
Willis was the third Briton after Wednesday’s heats and only two from one nation could advance.
Benson was ninth following the semi-finals, failing to progress to the final that Murdoch won.
Murdoch and Benson train alongside each other at the University of Stirling, but there will be no negotiations over the 200m place.
“Craig’s my team-mate and he’s one of my best friends,” Murdoch added. “There’s absolutely no way I’d do that to Craig. The only thing I want to do now is get back to training and make sure that we’re both working as hard as we can so we both put in best-time performances in Rio.
“I’m 22 years old, I’ve got plenty of years left in me.”
Murdoch was thrilled with his win.
“I’m absolutely delighted,” he added. “Everything went to plan. I had to try to stay long [in my stroke] in that last 50m, because I knew he [Koch] was coming at me really quick.
“I just stuck to my guns, stayed disciplined and got my hands on the wall, seven hundredths in front.”
Carlin was defending champion over 800m but had to settle for silver in 8:23.52 behind Boglarka Kapas of Hungary, who won in 8:21.40.
“I would’ve loved to have got the gold, but I raced tough,” said 25-year-old Carlin, who is based in Bath. “It’s about working hard and to race hard. You’ll get those close races in Rio.”
Katinka Hosszu of Hungary added the 200m IM to her 400m IM win earlier in the week, clocking a championship record of 2:07.30. O’Connor, of Bath, was second in 2:09.03 and Garioch’s Miley third in 2:11.84.
Carlin, O’Connor and Miley returned in the 4x200m freestyle relay, with Georgia Coates. The quartet finished fourth in 7:53.97 as Hungary, anchored by Hosszu, won in 7:51.63.
Dawson was third in the 100m backstroke in 59.68, won by Denmark’s Mie Ostergaard Nielsen in 58.73, another championship record. Georgia Davies was fifth.
Chloe Tutton, a surprise bronze medallist in the 100m breaststroke, returned in the 200m and qualified fastest for Friday’s final in 2:23.76. Molly Renshaw advanced in sixth place.