Four-medal Stephen Milne making a big splash

While many of the Team GB swimmers opted for a sparse programme at the Scottish National Open Championships, Perth’s Stephen Milne showed the gutsy determination required by a 1,500m specialist and left with a quartet of individual medals.

Stephen Milne: Preparing for the worlds. Picture: SNS

The 21-year-old is one of six Scots in the British team heading for the World Championships in Russia next month and he warmed up by taking part in all the freestyle events at the Tollcross 
International swimming Centre.

He won the 1,500m, finished second in the 400m, 200m and 100m and was a very creditable fourth in the one-length 50m dash.

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Scottish swimming has freestyle strength in depth. Duncan Scott, the flying teenager, won 100 and 200m gold at the European Games that ended in Baku yesterday and Robbie Renwick won the 100m in Glasgow.

All three helped Scotland win the silver medal at last year’s Commonwealth Games in the 4x200m relay – and they will again be aiming to help Team GB achieve World success in Kazan.

“These championships were all about fine tuning for the worlds and it’s been a good few days of hard racing against high quality opposition,” said Milne, who finished off his programme with second place behind Sheffield’s 
Nicholas Grainger in the 200m event.

“Now I can concentrate on the final couple of weeks preparation and I’ll just aim to do my best when I get to Russia.”

Hannah Miley, Ross Murdoch and US-based Dan Wallace are the other three Scots set for the World Championships – but another nine will be aiming to prove a point this summer. 
Scotland National coach Alan Lynn is taking Michael Jamieson, Craig McNally, Cameron Broody, Craig Benson, Kathleen Dawson, Jordan Hughes, Camilla Hattersley, Corrie Scott and Mark Szaranek to San Antonio in Texas for the US National Championships.

“They take place at the same as the worlds so it will be good to compare results,” said Lynn.

“There are going to be some great swimmers there. For instance, Cameron Brodie will be up against Michael Phelps in the butterfly.

“As soon as the last racer touches the wall in Kazan, then it will all be about next year’s Olympic Games in Rio. I’m committed to getting as many Scots into Team GB as possible.

“We have a really good group at the moment, but I want to get more females up to the top level. In fact, from tonight, we are staging a three-day camp for 40 females.

“We also have a lot of juniors coming through. There are six swimmers – Erin Robertson, Tain Bruce, Meg Finnon, Benedict Tortolano, Kieran Preston and Craig McLean – selected for the Commonwealth Youth Games in Samoa in September.”

Jamieson and McNally are two who have suffered the inevitable ups and downs of the sport, but aim to be in top form at next year’s Olympics.

Jamieson bounced back from the heartache of losing out to Murdoch in the Commonwealth Games by claiming gold in the 200m breaststroke at these championships.

McNally, who was tipped to medal at the Games but was unwell during the event, demonstrated his rebound ability by snatching the 200m backstroke, just inching out England’s Jonathan Carlisle.

The Warrender swimmer combines the sport with his studies at Heriot-Watt University and he has been on a mission to make the Olympics ever since he lost out by a mere fraction of a second in 2012.

He made a huge breakthrough when he was selected to Team GB for the 2013 World Championships in Barcelona, but another bout of illness hindered his hopes of a trip to Russia this summer.

“I was ill again at this year’s trials,” he said. “I have been unfortunate, these things happen. But I am still determined to make the Olympics next year. That’s what it is all about.”