MICHAEL Jamieson proved his form on the opening day of the European Short-Course Championships yesterday by breaking a British record.
He will have to go considerably faster, however, to win tonight’s final of the 100 metres breaststroke as four of his fellow finalists posted quicker times in the semi-finals.
Jamieson, the Glaswegian whose silver medal made him Britain’s top-performing swimmer at the London Olympics, is a 200m specialist but he has been honing his craft over four laps of the 25m pool since the summer, developing the muscle to cut it as a sprinter.
He proved yesterday, when exposed to the cream of the continent, that the training tweaks have been beneficial, setting a new British standard of 57.89 seconds that narrowly removed James Gibson’s 57.91 from 2008 from the record books.
The marvel was that, so high is the standard, Jamieson only finished fourth in his semi-final and qualified fifth-fastest for tonight’s final. He will not be too disheartened, though, as fastest qualifier Daniel Gyurta was less than half a second better in 57.56.
Jamieson’s Bath training partner, Andrew Willis, rewrote his short-course personal best with a time of 58.38 but his form faded and he was eliminated at the semi-final stage. That fate also befell Hannah Miley as she failed to reach the final of the 200m individual medley. A world short-course bronze medallist last year in 2:07.12, Miley only managed 2:10.14 yesterday and then saw two British team-mates go on to inhabit her usual domain on the podium.
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor finished second in the final to winner Katinka Hosszu of Hungary, with Sophie Allen claiming bronze.
A third British medal on the opening day in Denmark went to Jemma Lowe, who claimed bronze in the 200m butterfly.
Back home, three of Scotland’s other London Olympians – Robbie Renwick, Craig Benson and Caitlin McClatchey – will be aiming to end the year in style when they line-up in the Scottish Gas National Short Course Championships over the next three days at the Royal Commonwealth pool in Edinburgh.
The line-up also includes Ross Murdoch, who made his Team GB debut in the summer’s World Championships, and three teenagers aiming to make the Commonwealth Games team, Duncan Scott, Suleman Butt and Charlotte McKenzie.
A number of top English and Welsh swimmers are also taking part. Including Liam Tancock, Lizzie Simmonds, Georgia Davies and Roberto Pavoni.
For all the Scots, the Championships provide a chance to test their preparation in the countdown to the National trials in just four months’ time.
“I always enjoy swimming in Scottish events and 2014 is going to be such a special year,” said Renwick, who will be defending the 200m freestyle at Glasgow 2014. “It’s really important for me to get the 200m title back and that’s what I’ll be focusing on. But I’ll also hope to qualify for the 100m. Overall, I think the Scottish team at the Games is going to be very strong.” McClatchey, a double gold winner at the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, moved from Loughborough to Edinburgh after the London Olympics and has been training with Edinburgh University for a year. At 28, the 200m and 4000m freestyle specialist, is one of the oldest competitors in the field.
McKenzie, Scott and Butt are all still at school – but they all have a chance of making the Games team. Scott, a swimming scholarship student at Strathallan, has had a terrific year.
Highlights for the 16-year-old include winning gold in the 200m individual medley at the European Youth Olympic Festival and setting a British junior record in the 50m freestyle.
Looking ahead to the event at the Commonwealth pool. Forbes Dunlop, Scottish Swimming’s Chief Executive Officer, said: “These Championships are widely recognised as the premier short course event in the UK, which is why it attracts such a large, quality field.
“After success at World, European, National and local events, our swimmers are now concentrating their efforts on preparing for the 2014 Commonwealth Games selection event in April. This weekend is the first opportunity of the new swimming season to measure their training progress and we look forward to some fantastic racing on show.”
With Jamieson missing the championships along with Miley and Craig McNally, the battle for places in the Team Scotland breaststroke contingent at Glasgow 2014 will hot up. Warrender’s Benson made his mark by qualifying for the London Olympics 100m, but it was Stirling-based Murdoch who made it to this year’s World Championships.