Swimming: Opportunity opens up for Warrender star Hamilton

TEENAGE Warrender swimmer Craig Hamilton, a complete novice in the discipline, will join Olympic silver medallist Keri-Anne Payne in a seven-strong British Gas Open Water team at the FINA World Championships in Rome next month.

The Open Water competition will take place from July 19-22 in the sea on the Ostia coast. The Championships will feature a strong British Gas team, who all qualified at the recent LEN Open Water Cup event in Israel.

Hamilton, the Scottish No.1 in distance freestyle, made his open water debut in Israel and came a very impressive fifth in the 10K event.

Led by British Swimming Open Water Performance Manager Mark Perry, the British Gas team will head to Rometo build experience and test themselves against the world's best. It is a valuable opportunity for many of the younger swimmers, Hamilton included, to grow as international swimmers and start to make claims for places in Team GB for the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

"We got a lot out of the LEN Open Water Cup in Israel. We took a few new swimmers out of the pool and tested them, and found that they have an aptitude for Open Water," explained Perry.

"We're mainly going to the World Championships for the experience – everything now is about building a team and working toward London 2012 which is our main goal."

With the aim of building an Olympic team, Perry was pleased to note the young talent on display "There are definitely a number of great young athletes on the team, including Craig.

"Rome will be a chance for them to compete on an even bigger stage."