Friday, December 13, 2019

Record breaking opening day of Short Course Championships

The Scottish National & Short Course Swimming Championships kicked off in style today at the Royal Commonwealth Pool in Edinburgh with a number of Scottish and British Records falling, including that of the 200m backstroke, a Scottish record which has stood for more than 11 years.

Craig McNally looked to be back to his best form with a superb display in the 200m backstroke final, which saw him post a massive personal best and take over a second off the Scottish Record, which had been held by Gregor Tait since April 2008.

McNally lined up alongside University of Stirling team-mate, Duncan Scott, and Scott held his own until around the half way mark. At that point, McNally showed his strength and expertise in the event and pulled away from the rest of the field with every remaining stroke. He touched home in 1:50.57 to claim the title with Scott winning silver in 1:54.34. Jono Adam from Ellesmere College took the bronze in 1:56.61.

McNally said of his performance,

“I knew there was a quick swim in me. I never do well in training or in season but I had quite a good swim at BUCS and training has been going well so I knew a fast swim was coming.  I was trying to get as close as I could to the 1:50 or 1:49 mark but it’s over a second PB and I really can’t complain.”

While not focusing too much on the time itself, McNally continued,

“I still consider the 200 to be my strongest event, no matter how hard I try to make it the 50 or the 100; the 200 is more natural to me. My stroke is much more suited to the longer distance. I tend to have my best 100 swims when my 200s are doing better and when I try and focus predominantly on the 100 I tend to work it a little too hard for the speed I’m going and it doesn’t click. With the 200, even if I don’t feel I’m at my best, I can relax into the stroke more.”

Fresh from winning two gold medals at the LEN European Short Course Swimming Championships in Glasgow, Freya Anderson continued her excellent form with victory in the 100m freestyle, touching home in a time of 52.56. Afterwards the Ellesmere College student said,

“This is just about working on my turns and my skills here in Edinburgh, that’s what the coach has said to do. Hopefully I did alright skills wise in that race; it’s really not about the times this weekend, it’s just about going out and enjoying it.”

In the same event Edinburgh University’s Lucy Hope picked up the silver medal in a new Scottish Record time of 53.26, with team-mate Kat Greenslade taking the first of her two individual medals from the evening, with bronze (54.45).

After the race, Hope said of her performance,

"That's the fastest time I've swam in the last two years. Hopefully this form turns out well for long course as well. We've been focusing more on long course and I'm not really rested coming into this meet, so to come away with a PB and Scottish Record I can't complain.”

Like a number of athletes here, Hope is juggling racing with university exams; she said of her schedule,

“Yes, I have an exam on Monday morning, which won’t be a lot of fun.  I went part time this year so the work load has been a lot less with only one course this semester and one next semester. I still think it's important to keep your brain a little bit busy and not always focus too much on swimming."

Ross Murdoch also produced a Scottish Record performance in the 50m breaststroke final leading a University of Stirling 1-2-3. Murdoch touched home in 26.26 ahead of Zak Aitchison (26.56) and Craig Benson (26.71). Afterwards Murdoch said of the meet,

“This is great and is another opportunity to use a meet as a springboard almost. So I’m trying to come off the back of the Europeans and swim faster here. It's a great place to be and I'm really looking forward to the rest of the weekend.

“It's been full on recently with the ISL, one week off, then coming back for the Europeans and now here. But I think that's the way you have to do short course swimming. I spoke with Michael Jamieson at this meet last year and was asking him as I was miles off the Scottish Record for 200m breaststroke, and I asked him, 'Mate, how do you go a 2:01 for 200m breaststroke?' and he said it was just about racing, racing and racing. He got the record at the back end of racing at all the World Cups and doing everything he could to try and swim fast that year and you know I've taken that advice and tried to attack ever race and get as many opportunities to race as I can. And I see this as a great opportunity, using last weekend as a springboard, to move everything on again."

Lucy Grieve of South Ayrshire Swim Team secured her first senior title with gold in the 50m butterfly and a new Scottish Junior Record of 26.69. There was also a Scottish Junior Record for Emma Russell (Hearts) in the 100m freestyle final of 54.87.

The University of Stirling quartet of Martyn Walton, Ross Murdoch, Duncan Scott and Scott McLay broke the British Record and claimed a Scottish Club Record for the 4x50m medley relay posting a time of 1:33.52.

Earlier in the day Stephen Clegg (Edinburgh University) broke the British Record (S12) for 100m freestyle in a time of 52.31, while Louis Lawlor broke the S14 Scottish record for both the 100m freestyle (52.85) and 200m backstroke (2:09.70).

Full results from all heats and finals can be found on the Swim Scotland website:

The event is being live-streamed with the finals available to view on demand on the Scottish Swimming YouTube Channel:

The action can be followed across all Scottish Swimming social media channels using the hashtag #ScotNSC19

The Scottish National & Open Short Course Swimming Championships are taking place at the Royal Commonwealth Pool in Edinburgh from 13-15 December 2019.