Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Largest Aquatics Team Ever Selected for Glasgow 2014

“I have been very pleased with the approach of the swimmers to the challenge of qualification. This will hold them in good stead to perform at the top of their game come July.” Ally Whike, Director of Performance, Scottish Swimming

Team Scotland will send its largest Aquatics team ever to a Commonwealth Games, with 38 swimmers and two divers selected for Glasgow 2014.

Aquatics is one of ten core sports at the Commonwealth Games and Swimming and Diving have been in every Games since they began in Hamilton in 1930. It is one of the most competitive sports in the Commonwealth Games and Scotland has won a total of 73 medals in aquatics (including 20 gold), more than any other sport.

Following the intensity of back to back selection meets, Commonwealth Games Scotland (CGS) in conjunction with Scottish Swimming today confirmed the names of the athletes who have achieved their goal of competing on home soil this summer. 

Scottish swimmers have fought to meet the testing selection standards, firstly up against fellow Scots at the Scottish Championships (3-6 April) and then a week later, with the added home country dimension, at the British Championships (10-15 April). Both events were held at the Glasgow 2014 competition venue - Tollcross International Swimming Centre, which will undoubtedly bear witness to further excitement this summer when the action gets underway 24-29 July.

Making the announcement Team Scotland Chef de Mission, Jon Doig said: “I am delighted to announce the biggest Aquatics team we have ever selected for a Commonwealth Games and at this stage it is the biggest single sport in Team Scotland for 2014. Whilst there is a strong core of experience and success at the highest level, I am also excited to see so many new faces on the team who have been inspired to achieve their best in a quest to be part of Team Scotland at a home Games.

“With only 98 days left until the start of Glasgow 2014, I wish all of them the very best with their final preparations and look forward to some another successful Games in the pool for Scotland this summer.” 

Only 12 athletes have competed in the Commonwealth Games before, with five of them medallists, contributing a total of eight medals to swimming’s impressive medal tally.

Caitlin McClatchey, double gold medallist from Melbourne 2006 battled back at the British Championships this week to secure her place in the 200m freestyle, despite contending with a back injury over recent weeks. She will make her third Games appearance for Team Scotland in Glasgow.

Glasgow based Robbie Renwick will also compete in his third Games and will be determined to find his very best form in his home pool in a bid to retain his 200m Freestyle title which was Scotland’s first gold medal of the Games in Delhi in 2010 – the first occasion Flower of Scotland was played as the team’s anthem.

Hannah Miley from Inverurie is also selected for her third consecutive Games and will defend her 400m Individual Medley title on the opening night of the swimming. She plans to keep busy for the duration of the competition, having met selection standards for a further three individual events.

But it has been in the men’s breaststroke events that we have witnessed some of the stiffest competition for places, with Scotland statistically the strongest nation in the world in the 100m Breaststroke just now. 

Whilst Olympic and Commonwealth Games silver medallist Michael Jamieson demonstrated his pedigree in the 200m, University of Stirling’s Ross Murdoch has proved he is a force to be reckoned with, winning both the 100m and 50m titles at the Scottish Championships in new Scottish and British records and taking silver in the 200m. He cemented his credentials a week later at the British Championships, where he stormed to victory in the 100m to go top of the world long-course rankings and then took silver in the 50m event. 

Triple Commonwealth Youth Games gold medallist Craig Benson also secured his place in the 100m breaststroke at the second time of asking, having missed out at the Scottish Championships by the narrowest of margins, just 0.01 seconds.

Two divers have also been announced today. Edinburgh’s Grace Reid who was Scotland’s youngest ever team member when she competed in Delhi 2010 at just 14 years of age will make her second Games appearance in the 1m Springboard event, She will turn 18 in three weeks-time and has grown more than 10cm since her Commonwealth debut, creating all sorts of technical challenges to overcome.

Reid’s training partner James Heatly (16) has also been named today, which will give great cause for celebration in the Heatly family. James is the grandson of the legendary diver and Commonwealth administrator Sir Peter Heatly, who will turn 90 shortly before the Glasgow Games. Sir Peter still sits in third place on the list of all-time top Scots at the Commonwealth Games winning three gold, one silver and one bronze and nothing would give him greater pleasure than to watch James follow in his footsteps. 

Performance Director of Scottish Swimming, Ally Whike said: “I have been very pleased with the approach of the swimmers to the challenge of qualification. This will hold them in good stead to perform at the top of their game come July.”

Minister for Sport and Commonwealth Games, Shona Robison said: “It is always a fantastic achievement to represent your country and all those who have made the swimming and diving team can feel rightly proud.  It is just reward for all the hard work and commitment these athletes have put in day in and day out in the pool.  I am also delighted for the coaches and support staff who have played such an important role in supporting their athletes. We have been helping many of these athletes though sportscotland Athlete Personal Awards and we have high hopes for success in the aquatic events at the Games.”

The athletes announced today have benefited from the support of sportscotland the national agency for sport and in particular from the high performance support and expertise provided by the sportscotland institute of sport. 

Congratulating the athletes, Louise Martin CBE, Chair of sportscotland, said: “It is tremendous that the Team Scotland aquatic team is the largest ever to be sent to a Commonwealth Games. It is Scotland’s most successful sport at this level, and, with the talent in the team and their incredible strength of depth, I’m confident they will have another rewarding Games in Glasgow.

“Many congratulations to all the athletes selected today, it will be a truly wonderful experience to perform in front of a home crowd. The dedication of the athletes, coupled with the support they receive from Scottish Swimming and the sportscotland institute of sport experts and practitioners, has produced the best prepared Team Scotland swimmers and divers ever to take part in the Commonwealth Games.”

The aquatics team is expected to grow further, when the Para-Sport swimmers and any other swimmers securing selection times (only in events with available spaces, based on three per event) are announced at the final team announcement on 12 June.

This brings the total Team Scotland numbers selected so far to 92 with an anticipated final team size in the region of 270 athletes.

Meet all athletes here