The summer holidays have brought little relaxation for Stirling’s swimming protégés. While most of us will be kicking back after a hard year’s work, the University’s elite swimmers have been focused on reaching the pinnacle of their careers to date.
Of the six Scots in the 30 strong British contingent attending the upcoming World Aquatics Championships in Kazan, three are elite Stirling scholars: Ross Murdoch, Robbie Renwick and Duncan Scott. Reigning Commonwealth Games gold medallist Murdoch will compete in the 100m breaststroke after finishing second to world record holder Adam Peaty with a personal best of 59.12. Despite his disappointment at not qualifying for the 200m (the distance at which he won gold in Glasgow last year) Murdoch has since stated “I am delighted with my 100 and I know there’s lots of work to be done over the summer”.
The oldest of the qualifying scholars at 26, Robbie Renwick has done exceptionally well to keep up with world qualifying standards in the 200m freestyle. Unlike Murdoch, Renwick’s personal best is not a recent memory – 1:45.99 at the 2009 World Championships in Rome. Despite being one of the 10 fastest 200 freestyle swimmers in the world, the top 5 on the list have all swum faster this year than Renwick’s personal best. Therefore probability would leave him off the podium this time.
A surprise package came in the form of 18 year old Duncan Scott. The youngest qualifier has barrel loads of experience and pedigree at Junior level with two golds and a bronze at the European Junior Games. However, his ability to cope with the demands at the highest senior level waits to be seen. On the positive side he was able to keep up with Commonwealth gold medallists Daniel Wallace and Robbie Renwick as part of Scotland’s silver medal winning relay team in 2014. On the other hand, Great Britain coach Bill Furniss has stated that
“We need to keep the world championships in context…our focus was for Commonwealth and European championships but we also want to swim at the final event of the year….Some of them have improved (from 2014), but they are all going to take stuff away that they can work on”
With all the special preparations going on inside British Swimming this writer can honestly say that we should be surprised at how far the qualifiers, both veterans and juniors, will push themselves for the team and for themselves.
So whatever Stirling students do this summer, from a part time job, to a sunshine adventure, this writer would implore each and every one of them to take and interest or show your support for the accomplishments of your fellow students. Whether you follow the tournaments day by day, or just follow the Stirling swimmers on twitter, do your bit!
Follow at (@UofSSwim