Duncan Scott Fires Off 1:47.32 In First 200 Free Since 2019 Worlds At McCullagh International

duncan scott
Duncan Scott: Photo Courtesy: Patrick B. Kraemer

World bronze medallist Duncan Scott swam the sixth-fastest 200 free of the year as he came home in 1:47.32 following a heat swim that combined grace and strength at the McCullagh International in Bangor, Northern Ireland.

It was Scott’s first 200 in a long-course pool since that night at the 2019 World Championships in Gwangju, South Korea, where he stood firm in the courage of his convictions by refusing to share the podium with Sun Yang.


Duncan Scott: Photo Courtesy: Patrick B. Kraemer

It follows his 100m free blast of 48.86 on Friday morning with the meet at the Aurora Aquatic and Leisure Complex mirroring the Tokyo schedule.

That came days after he fired off a 48.53 at the BUCS (British Universities and Colleges Sport) Nationals in Sheffield, England,

Whether Scott and Sun will meet again in Japan this coming July is unknown as yet given no verdict has been handed down by CAS following the fateful night in September 2018 when an out-of-competition doping test ended with the smashing of a vial containing Sun’s blood sample and fingers pointed by the Chinese and his entourage who questioned the credentials of the testers.

Regardless, and despite the year being less than two months old, Scott has already demonstrated again his fine talent and form that may well translate into an individual visit to the podium in Tokyo in July, the swimmer already the owner of two Olympic relay silvers from Rio 2016 when he was 19.

Out in 51.50, there was an audible intake of breath around the venue, with the University of Stirling swimmer appearing to glide atop the water, to lead the way into Saturday morning’s final ahead of Stephen Milne (1:50.53) and Mark Szaranek (1:51.07), the meet mirroring the schedule of Tokyo 2020.

The Top Six in 2020

1:45.55 Sun Yang, Fina Series Beijing

1:45.74 Danas Rapsys, Fina Series Beijing

1:45.82 Katsuhiro Matsumoto, Konami Cup, Tokyo

1:46.65 Daiya Seto, Konami Cup, Tokyo

1:47.04 Velimir Stjepanovic, Euro Meet

1:47.32 Duncan Scott, McCullagh International

Scott told Swimming World: “It was good. First one done I’ve done long-course this season – obviously a lot of short-course and stuff – so it was good to get in there, I had no idea what I was going, so I am quite happy with that, 1:47.3.

“That’s up there with the quickest I’ve been in-season so it was good.”

Other notable performances in the evening heats at the Bangor Aquatic and Leisure Complex saw Commonwealth champion James Wilby lead the way in the 200 breaststroke in 2:11.98 followed by Ross Murdoch and Adam Peaty, who returned from winning the 100 on Friday morning in a time only he and 2012 champion Cameron van der Burgh have bettered in Olympic waters.

Scott Rises To His Own Challenges


Duncan Scott: Photo Courtesy: Becca Wyant

Scott experimented with focusing on morning performance at the European Short-Course Championships in Glasgow in December and it paid off for the 22-year-old who set British records in the 200 free and 200 IM.

The Bangor meet presents a chance for people to replicate and prepare for the Tokyo format but for Scott it presents a chance to face his own challenges.

He said:

“I think different people are taking different things from it. It’s a great opportunity to try different things. I know for a lot of people this will be the first time they’ve had morning finals. So I guess for them it’s a good opportunity.

“For myself, I am just treating every race as a good opportunity to really challenge myself. I’ll get a good night’s sleep and recovery rather than potentially just having the afternoon off. I guess in that sense it works quite well.

“If it’s morning or evening, at this meet I am just sort of trying to challenge myself regardless of when it is.

“To be honest, it’s probably not completely refined yet. It’s something you half have an eye on but at the same time the trials are coming up so you’ve got to focus on that. British swimming is getting stronger and stronger – we have quite a few young guys coming through so first and foremost make the team.”

Scott added:

“I think regardless whoever is in there for Olympics this year they’ll be ready to go when it comes to the finals. I think swimmers, no matter when it is, they’ll be ready to race, whatever time it is.

“To be completely honest, I’ve done quite a bit of work on it but from now on for me it’s focusing on the trials and then after that we’ve got plenty of time depending on what my competition is after the trials depending on how they go.

“For me it’s all focused on the trials and after that I’ve been figuring out what I’m having for breakfast and so on and so forth. Until then it’s my normal routine.”

Wilby Leads The Way As He Looks To Turn Silver Into Gold


Photo Courtesy: Becca Wyant

Wilby claimed silver in the 100m on Friday morning behind Peaty in 59.91 to replicate their one-two finish in Gwangju.

The National Centre Loughborough swimmer returned to progress first in the 200m in which he is Commonwealth champion and European silver medallist.

Murdoch, 2014 Commonwealth champion, was second through in 2:13.42 with Peaty – in his first serious tilt over four lengths since 2016 – next in 2:14.64.

The McCullagh International has presented the 26-year-old with a chance to attempt the Tokyo timeline and he freely admitted that it had been a real test.

He told Swimming World:

“Today was definitely the most challenging day for me. I had the 100 final this morning and then backed that up with a 200 heat so it’s just kind of been managing that, talking with the team, a lot of communication around different recovery strategies, different ideas. We’re really taking this morning stuff seriously so it has been a really interesting learning experience.

“(This meet is) Really valuable. It gives us chances to experiment with techniques and stuff like that: it certainly will be beneficial going forward towards the trials in April and then again this summer so it’s a good learning experience.”

Of his aims for the morning final, Wilby was not talking times but simply putting together the components.

“It’s just about the process: putting in a good cluster of swims. It is going to be a good race tomorrow, for sure, but get that process in terms of morning finals, that is the whole thing about this meet.

“So learning that and it’s completely different for 200s as it is for 100s so that’s the focus. Times are important but at the same time as long as we get a good cluster with the BUCS and this meet, we’ll be happy with.”

Molly Renshaw, Commonwealth silver medallist and she of the long glide, led the way in the women’s heats in 2:27.92 with Niamh Coyne in 2:32.06.

Litchfield Pushes It To The Max


Max Litchfield – Photo Courtesy: Georgie Kerr

Max Litchfield won the 200 fly in Friday morning’s finals, keeping youngster Ed Mildred at bay, and he set about the 400IM in the heats.

The National Centre Loughborough swimmer went out in 58.6 and pulled away from the field on the third 50 to turn at halfway in 2:06.80.

Still he extended his lead going into the freestyle and he touched in 4:19.0, more than 10secs ahead of Mildred only for the 17-year-old to be disqualified for a one-handed touch between the fly and backstroke legs.

It meant Litchfield’s margin of victory over second-fastest qualifier Cadan McCarthy was 16.16secs, the National Centre Limerick swimmer coming home in 4:35.17.

Litchfield, who was fourth at the Rio Olympics, was satisfied with his execution and told Swimming World:

“It was alright. It’s already faster than what BUCS (British Universities & Colleges Sport) was last weekend so I just tried to go in there and execute my race plan similar to what my race plan will be at trials.

“There’s a few things we’ve been working on making sure we come back strong – that was the big focus there.”

Always a realist with his feet planted firmly on terra firma, Litchfield shrugged when asked about the prospect of morning finals.

“Everyone’s doing the same thing and hopefully it will be the same come Tokyo hopefully once we qualify in April. We’ve just got to get used to it – there’s no point moaning about it, it’s just the way it is.”

Litchfield, the 2018 European silver medallist, has won the British title every year since 2016, injury forcing him out in 2018.

He welcomed the arrival of Mildred and the effect of competition, saying:

“I’ve got Ed, Mark Szaranek, Tom Dean and Duncan beat me last week in the event (at BUCS) and he’s now short-course British record holder.

“It’s not like I’m always the only one there and that’s great to have people there pushing you forward. You don’t get better unless you’re getting pushed and it’s amazing to have that.”

Commonwealth 200 fly champion Alys Thomas enjoyed the path of least resistance with the smoothest of strokes to lead the way in the 200 free.

The Welshwoman produced the only sub-two-minute swim in 1:59.65 – close to her PB of 1:59.5 – with Abbie Wood next in 2:00.69 ahead of Aimee Willmott, winner of the women’s 400IM title on Friday morning, through in 2:01.32.

Luke Greenbank, who led off the British medley relay quartet that Scott so memorably anchored to victory in Gwangju, heads the field in the 100 back in 55.11 with Conor Ferguson 0.18 back in 55.29 while Kathleen Dawson produced the only sub-minute effort in the women’s equivalent in 59.98.

Mona McSharry led the women’s 50 fly field in 27.07 with Jarvis Parkinson heading the men’s in 24.08.



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