Prowess in the art of splash and dash does not necessarily translate into Olympic titles but Duncan Scott values the inherent sense of fun to be found in swimming’s short-course spectacle. On the opening night of the Scottish Championships, the European and Commonwealth gold medallist earned three titles but also insisted many more tweaks and improvements must be found to achieve his aim of conquering the world.
Yet the sport, he acknowledges, must embrace events like these, with a quick succession of sprints to the finishing line, to thrive and grow in the four years that separate its ultimate stage. Which is why he, like many heralded contemporaries, were left frustrated when internal politics forced the cancellation of this month’s inaugural International Swimming League in Turin amid a power play instigated by FINA, the world governing body.
An A-list cast including Scott, Adam Peaty and Chad Le Clos had been assembled and sizeable appearance fees offered. “It was about having the opportunity to race the best in the world,” the Scotsman said. “Turin’s not far away which is a bonus. But it was everything around it that it was bringing: the whole excitement that was pretty big with some of the names.”
A roadblock came with threats that participants in what was deemed to be an unsanctioned sideshow would be suspended from competitions. FINA, an organisation admired by few, have responded with a hastily-imagined plan to launch an “innovative concept” next year. “FINA is ready to consider proposals for commercial partnerships but always in compliance with our rules,” its executive director Cornelius Marculescu said.
Scott is mildly encouraged. “Their attitudes are obviously starting to change and that’s what this Turin event was all about, being the catalyst for future events,” he said. “It’s good they’re discussing it and what the future holds for swimming. I know there will be meetings around the league and we’ll see what happens.”
In 12 months time, Glasgow will stage the European short-course championships and Scott will again hope to feel a home buzz. Last night, he won the 100 metres butterfly, then lowered the Scottish record in the 100m individual medley before completing his endeavours by helping Stirling University to the 4x50 medley title.
His sole blemish came in the 50m freestyle where Jack Thorpe, fresh from lowering his Scottish record to 21.55sec in the heats, emerged triumphant ahead of Scott McLay and Scott. “I knew I was capable of going pretty quick,” the champion declared. “The final was a race and I just got it.”
Ross Murdoch bested the Scottish 50m breaststroke record in his morning session and then reduced it once more to 26.34sec in the final, with Paralympic silver medalist Scott Quin lowering the SB14 Scottish record in the event to 29.89.
Keanna Macinnes also claimed a Scottish best of 2:07.21 in the 200m butterfly final while Stirling-based Commonwealth champion Aimee Wilmott won the women’s 200m medley in 2:10.10 ahead of Freya Anderson.