GLASGOW, Scotland, April 10. JAMES Guy and Matthew Wylie got the crowd excited on the first day of the British long course nationals, setting British records in the first two men’s events of the meet. But hometown hero Michael Jamieson was the person fans came to see, and he improved on his world-leading time today in the 200 breaststroke.
With the meet serving as one of the qualifying competitions to get swimmers on the Commonwealth Games squads for England, Scotland and Wales, athletes had to be at the top of their game today. England’s qualifying standards represented the third-fastest time from a Commonwealth swimmer last summer, and a few swimmers were able to get under the tough time. Scotland had its nationals last week and most of the squad was selected there, giving many Scottish swimmers little pressure this week. Most Welsh swimmers will be using this meet as the prime qualification for the Commonwealth Games, which will be held in the same pool as British nationals.
Jamieson was one of them. Though making the Scottish team for Commonwealth was likely not going to be an issue for the Olympic silver medalist, he put up a 2:08.01 that was the fastest time in the world this year. That bar was raised a bit higher tonight when Jamieson won the British title in the 200 breast with a 2:07.79. That was just three tenths slower than his best time, which stands as the British record from the 2012 Games. Briton Adam Peaty was second with a 2:09.40 to beat England’s qualifying time of 2:10.61 and earn a return trip to this pool in July. Andrew Willis could not catch Peaty in the final meters and settled for third with a 2:09.85 to give England two sub-2:10 swimmers in the event. Willis was a finalist at the Olympics and world championships, and could provide Jamieson and Australia’s Christian Sprenger with some competition at the Commonwealth Games.
James Guy got the meet off to a fantastic start with a British national record in the 400 free. Guy needed to post a 3:45.15 to get himself on England’s Commonwealth squad, as the qualifying time was set at 3:45.85. Guy beat David Davies’ 3:45.24 as the national record, a time that had stood since 2009. Nicholas Grainger was second with a 3:47.31, with Daniel Fogg third in 3:49.17.
The other national record came in the disability men’s 100 freestyle, where Matthew Wylie broke the British record twice in one day. He posted a 58.95 in prelims, then lowered it further with a 58.69.
One of the top stories of the day was the return of Liam Tancock to the race pool. After spending 2013 to clear up shoulder injury issues, Tancock is on the road to defending his 50 and 100 backstroke Commonwealth titles. In today’s 100 back semifinal, Tancock posted a smooth 54.67 to go into the final ranked second behind the 54.01 swum by Chris Walker-Hebborn. Charlie Boldison qualified third with a 54.95.
With Scottish star Hannah Miley sitting out the 400 IM after posting her Commonwealth qualifying time last week, Aimee Willmott was the clear favorite. She took full advantage of her breaststroke and freestyle portions of the race, posting a 4:35.94 to easily qualify for the Commonwealth Games. Willmott still holds the world’s fastest time of the year with a 4:33.64 from the Flanders Cup, and will likely need that time to beat Miley at the Commonwealth Games. Danielle Lowe wasn’t able to approach the English qualifying time of 4:39.37, placing second with a 4:42.42. Rose Rudin was third with a 4:45.33.
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor is branching out from breaststroke in a big way, winning the 200 free in 1:56.59 to get on England’s Commonwealth team. O’Connor was an Olympian in the 100 breast in 2012, but is showing promise for England and Great Britain in this new event. Jazz Carlin was second with a 1:57.97 to easily dip under the 1:59.84 needed to qualify for the Welsh team. Eleanor Faulkner was third in 1:58.82.
In other semifinal races, Sophie Taylor posted the fastest time in the 50 breast with a 31.41. Sarah Vasey was second with a 31.62 while Corrie Scott took the third spot in 31.63. Plymouth Leander’s Ben Proud and Antony James took the top two spots in the men’s 50 semifinal with times of 23.49 and 23.93. Adam Brown was right behind with a 23.96.
Fran Halsall will be the top seed in tomorrow’s 100 fly final, posting a 58.33 to put herself just outside the top 10 global rankings. She’ll need to be four tenths faster to beat the English qualifying time of 57.96. O’Connor will look for another event to swim at Commonwealths with a 58.34, while Rachael Kelly was not far behind with a 58.84.
Today’s session also featured four races exclusively for junior swimmers. Emma Cain won the women’s 400 IM with a 4:51.91, while Daniel Jervis beat Martyn Walton by .13 in the 400 free with a 3:56.43. Mari Davies took the women’s 200 free with a 2:02.40 and Jack Burton won the men’s 200 breast with a 2:17.22. Swimmers in these heats will be looking to meet criteria for qualifying to swim at the junior European championships this summer.