ON the night Ryan Lochte cemented his status as the finest male swimmer going Scotland’s Craig McNally announced himself as a future challenger to the American’s 200m backstroke crown.
Lochte took to the top of the podium for the second successive night yesterday when he retained his title in 1.53.79 seconds – 0.45sec clear of the field – having only returned to serious training two weeks before the USA trials in June.
McNally, a 20-year-old making his senior debut, actually beat Lochte in his first-round heat and rose to the occasion in the final, touching home sixth to obliterate his lifetime best and with it the Scottish record.
The Edinburgh Warrender swimmer’s time of 1.55.67 was the second-fastest ever posted by a British swimmer and just 0.09 shy of James Goddard’s leading mark.
Barring misfortune it seems likely McNally will share a pool with Lochte, 29 today, again in three years’ time at the Rio Olympics, as well as along the way, and the Scot admits he’s always looked to the best to measure his own progress.
“I can’t be disappointed with that, I’ve come in and done over a half-a-second PB and did what I have come here to do which is to try and get faster at each stage and move up the rankings,” said McNally, who set his previous best of 1.56.36 at the British trials in June.
“To finish in sixth place in the final is great and I am really happy with that. I thought I had another fast time in me.
“I’ve watched a lot of those guys as I was growing up at swimming meets and looked at them.
“I have always based my times off them to try and figure out when I would be in contention to swim with them so to be able to do it now in my first world championships is really happy.
“He [Lochte] is still producing really fast times and I’m looking forward to racing him for the next few years.”
There was no world title and not even a silver lining for Michael Jamieson but despite missing out on the 200m breaststroke medals he is certain his time will come again.
The Glasgow swimmer, who won Olympic silver over the same distance at London 2012, was forced to settle for fifth place last night after clocking 2.09.14 minutes.
Nemesis Daniel Gyurta, who pipped him to gold last summer, took the title in a championship record of 2.07.23mins with Marco Koch of Germany second and Finland’s Matti Mattsson taking bronze. “I couldn’t have done much more than that and it is easy to say ‘why aren’t you swimming as fast as last year?’ But I have had a nightmare last couple of months,” said Jamieson, whose preparations were rocked by a bicep tendon injury.
Meanwhile, a new-look men’s 4x200m freestyle relay squad finished eighth in their final, James Guy, Robbie Renwick, Josh Walsh and Jak Scott touching home in 7.12.00mins.
“Those veterans from back in the day like David Carry and Ross Davenport that were proven relay swimmers aren’t here and so it is good to see the younger guys step up to this event,” said Renwick.
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