Friday, April 19, 2019

Wilby edges Murdoch in breaststroke thriller

In a race that both athletes have been looking forward to all week, James Wilby and Ross Murdoch certainly didn’t disappoint with a superb 200m breaststroke final, which saw them both dip under the 2:08 mark, the first time two Brits have ever done that at a Championships.

While Murdoch shot from the blocks it was Wilby who turned first with a lead he never let go of. Murdoch, however, had another battle on his hands in the middle 100, as University of Stirling team-mate,  Craig Benson, was looking strong and enjoying 2nd place for much of the race. Murdoch, however, used his back end speed to move away from Benson and looked to be closing Wilby down too, but Wilby (Loughborough NC), had done enough to take the touch in 2:07.49, and automatic qualification to the World Championships in South Korea in July. Murdoch won silver in 2:07.96 (also within the qualification criteria, but pending selection) while Benson secured the bronze in 2:10.13.

Wilby said of the race,

“It’s really fun to race against people you would call your friends, I really enjoy it. And when that translates onto the international stage we can push each other on and both challenge for medal positions.”

Murdoch also looked very happy with his performance and said,

“I think I probably went out too hard on the first 50, one stroke more than I wanted to be, but it doesn’t really matter, so long as I execute the rest of the race fine then you’re allowed to make small tactical errors like that in a 200. But maybe going out a bit too hard on the first 50 made me suffer in the last 10 today, so there are definitely things I can work on going into the summer.

“I’ve said all week I’ve been looking forward to that race. I knew my easy speed was there and I knew my back end speed was there based on the 100 but I feel it was absolutely spot on, I can’t fault it. And to see the 07 on the board; OK it was an 07.96 but those four one hundredths make all the difference and I’m delighted to have done something to show for all the work I’m putting in.

“It was really nice for Bill (Furniss, British Swimming Head Coach) to have come over personally and tell me that my skills have definitely moved on. That’s been a massive focus for me. Every year we sit down and have a review meeting with all the team staff, including Bill, as well as Scottish Swimming and British Swimming, and that was one of the things I put down on my process goals was to work on my starts and turns.

“To not have a PB for quite a while is pretty tough to keep the motivation up. I’ve been chasing my time from the Commonwealth Games for almost five years now; the same for the 100 the following year. We’re 4 years on from that and I’m still no better, but still, to see the little things starting to come on is looking really positive for South Korea.”

Freya Anderson (Ellesmere College Titans) secured a consideration time in the 100m freestyle final posting 53.79. Lucy Hope (Edinburgh University) came home in fourth in a season’s best time of 55.44 and said of her performance,

“It wasn’t as fast as I had wanted, but I was just happy to go in there and race.  I’ve not had the ideal preparation coming into this meet with tonsillitis three weeks ago, so to come away with a season’s best and only 0.3 off my personal best, I can’t really complain.”

Speaking about her potential to make the team as part of the relay, Hope continued,

“Last year I was at the Commonwealth Games and the European Championships and I want the experience of being in another major meet. Hopefully I’ll get the chance to experience that again whether at the Worlds or World Unis.  I’m also thinking about next year and I want to push on and get better and good enough to be on that Olympic team next year.”

Edinburgh University team-mates Tain Bruce, Rachel Masson and Kathryn Greenslade finished the 100m freestyle final in  5th, 6th and 7th respectively.

James Guy (Bath NC) powered to victory in the 100m butterfly final, but his time of 51.97 was shy of the consideration time for the World Championships. Duncan Scott (University of Stirling) won silver in a new personal best time of 52.25, which broke the Scottish Record set by Todd Cooper (52.33), back in 2008. Jacob Peters of Poole won bronze in 52.47. University of Stirling’s Scott McLay was 5th in 53.14.

Scott commented on his race,

“I committed to that. It hurt a bit on the last 10 to 15m but a big pb from two years ago so pleased to move it on.

“The reason why the fly events are in my schedule is to challenge myself. The events are longer (in time) so they’re harder and it’s good to mix it up. At World’s I may have a busy schedule so it is important to transition with back to back days of racing. I also enjoy the fly events; it’s always good to race a world class athlete just as Jim (James Guy).”

McLay also spoke about his race performance and said,

“It didn’t go exactly to plan but I had a considerable drop this morning of about 0.8, so do that again tonight after a tough few days of racing was a big ask. While I always look to go faster in the final, I can’t be too disappointed.”

Other Scottish Open finalists this evening were Jennifer King (East Kilbride) and Katie Shanahan (City of Glasgow Swim Team)-200m backstroke.

Full results can be found HERE

The British Swimming Championships are being held at Tollcross International Swimming Centre from 16 to 21 April 2019.