Murdoch takes step towards making British team

IT WAS just over a year ago that Ross Murdoch decided to take swimming seriously. A victory over Olympian Ross Benson in last night’s 100m breaststroke at the Scottish Gas National Age Group Championships proved that the commitment has paid huge dividends.

Having just been touched out by Benson in the 200m in the Championships at Edinburgh’s Royal Commonwealth Pool last Wednesday, the victory was sweet revenge for the Stirling University sports student and another huge stride towards GB recognition.

“I’m really happy with the win and even happier that I set a personal best,” said the 19-year-old following his career best 1:00.97 in the 17 and over section. “Everything has happened so fast. When I left school I wanted to work hard on my swimming and it’s nice to see the work paying off.

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“I qualified for the Olympic trials last year and surpassed my expectations by making the 200m final. I then went on to win medals at the European Junior Championships,” added Murdoch, who represents West Dunbartonshire but is now working with coach Rob Greenwood at Stirling.

“The goal this year is to make the British team for the World Championships and then there are the Commonwealth Games next year. It’s great that everything seems to be falling into place.”

Benson, slightly younger at 18, wasn’t making any excuses, but he did point out that he hadn’t interrupted a period of heavy training. Hannah Miley, the World 400m individual medley short-course Champion, completed a 17 and over golden double in the 200m freestyle and the 100m backstroke.

“At this stage of the season it is all about getting in some long course racing,” said the 23-year-old two-time Olympian. “The World Championships trials are in June. That’s the next big competition.”

Caitlin McClatchey, a three-time Olympian, actually bettered Miley’s time in the 200m freestyle heats – 2:00.71 to 2:00.93 – but the 27-year-old had been laid low with the norovirus and decided to pull out of the final.

Two Scottish age group records were broken in the 100m backstroke. Charlotte McKenzie set a time of 1:03.55 for a new 16 years mark and Kirsty Simpson was second behind Miley’s 1:04.51 and lowered the 17 years time to 1:05.52.