For Robbie Renwick, today’s Duel in the Pool is the start of a catalogue of top-class events on home water. The Commonwealth Games in Glasgow next summer is the biggest event of all, but this weekend’s head to clash with a strong USA team is the perfect war-up.
Billed as a Ryder Cup-style clash, City of Glasgow’s Renwick is one of four Scots in the European All Stars team taking on the mighty Americans at Tollcross Leisure Centre. Also included are Olympic silver medallist Michael Jamieson, Commonwealth Games Champion Hannah Miley and one of Britain’s best from 2013, Craig McNally.
The format is head-to-head swimming over 25m and this is the third Duel in the Pool. The USA won in Manchester in 2009 and retained the trophy in 2011 in Atlanta.
“They have another really great team,” said Renwick. “But so have we and it’s going to be some really exciting swimming. I think the crowd will love it. To get a chance to swim such big events in the pool that I use for training is very special. The Commonwealth Games are going to be fantastic. The trials are in April and it’s on your mind all the time.”
The USA are certainly going all out to maintain the unbeaten record. Unfortunately, Ryan Lochte, the 11-times Olympic medallist and one of the glamour stars of world swimming, has had to pull out due to injury, but the visitors’ line-up does include Olympic champions Katie Ledecky, Conor Dwyer, Shannon Vreeland and Tyler Clary.
Warrender’s McNally will be up against Clary in the backstroke and he said: “It is a shame that Lochte has withdrawn and I wish him all the best but it is still a great team.”
The Edinburgh swimmer, who will be 21 on Sunday, has made a significant breakthrough since he suffered the bitter disappointment of missing a London 2012 Olympic berth by just 0.1 secs. It’s something he will never forget. But, in 2013, he has shown the determination to bounce back and he is now ranked No 1 in the Commonwealth in the 200m backstroke.
He broke the Scottish record in winning the British Championship in Sheffield and then went on to finish sixth for Team GB at the World Championships in Barcelona.
Last weekend, he was again in GB colours at the European Short Course Championships in Denmark and set personal best times in the 50m, 100m and 200m backstroke.
“I hadn’t rested at all last weekend, so to produce such fast times was great,” he said. “This weekend will be a lot of fun.”
For all the Scots, the Commonwealth Games is a huge focus. “I had four months solid training before and then finally got some racing at last weekend’s Scottish Short Course Championships at the Commonwealth Pool,” said Renwick, who won the 200m and 400m freestyle in Edinburgh.
“This weekend will be another chance to race hard and then I’ll have a couple of days off at Christmas before going out with the rest of the Scottish team for a training camp in Tenerife next Friday. It will be great to get away from the Scottish winter for some warm- weather training.”
Miley is the most experienced Scot in the line-up and the former World Championship silver medallist will be in the medley events at her second Duel in the Pool. In Manchester four years ago, the Garioch swimmer broke the European record in the 400m individual medley.
And she loved the razzmatazz of the unique swimming event where music and flashing lights help add to the atmosphere and stir up the spectators.