Commonwealth Games: Capital swimmers out to make splash

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There will be a lot of Capital interest in the Opus Aquatic Centre on the Gold Coast over the next few days, with the University of Edinburgh’s Lucy Hope set to be the first local athlete in the pool on Thursday.

The swimming is one of the first sports to start in the Commonwealth Games in Australia with the first session starting at 10.30am local time (1.30am UK time).

Lucy Hope will head into the Opus Aquatic Centre in confident mood

Lucy Hope will head into the Opus Aquatic Centre in confident mood

Hannah Miley and Stephen Milne will be first up for Team Scotland in the heats of the women’s 400m IM and the men’s 400m freestyle respectively.

Hope then gets involved in the women’s 200m freestyle heats and it is amazing that during the swimming programme 11 athletes from the University of Edinburgh will be aiming to make a splash in the pool.

As well as Hope, Jack Thorpe, Dan Wallace, Kieran McGuckin, Calum Tait, Euan Inglis, Corrie Scott and Mark Szaranek will be in Team Scotland.

Lizzie Simmonds and David Cumberlidge are with Team England, Kathryn Greenslade is with Team Wales and Iain McCallum is with Team Cayman Islands.

Heart of Midlothian swimmer Keanna MacInnes

Heart of Midlothian swimmer Keanna MacInnes

University of Edinburgh coach Chris Jones is also with Team Scotland and he said: “It is great to have so many University of Edinburgh athletes involved. We try and provide them with a good training environment and I think having good swimmers around them day in and day out really spurs them on.”

Hope, the 21-year-old originally from the Borders, goes into the Games after claiming a hat-trick of medals in the Edinburgh International Swim Meet in March.

She won the women’s 50m backstroke at the Royal Commonwealth Pool and backed it up with the 50m freestyle gold in a time of 25.69 seconds.

A silver then came in the 100m women’s freestyle in a time of 55.95 seconds.

She said: “It was good for confidence to pick up some medals at that event and I was feeling pretty good over the few days and myself and my coach then pinpointed a few things to work on of the back of that meet.

“Swimming in Australia will be very different so I just have to get myself into a good place and trust my stroke and all of the hours that I have put in.”

Other University of Edinburgh Scottish swimmers in the pool on day one are Scott in the women’s 50m backstroke and Tait in the men’s 200m breastroke. Meanwhile, Simmonds admits it is fun competing against her university team-mates when she is with England.

The 27-year-old, who finished second in the women’s 200m backstroke in Delhi in 2010, said: “The pressure is slightly different to other international majors, but definitely there is always fast swimming and that really good head-to-head rivalry between the top swimming nations in the world.

“The main difference is obviously when you’re standing behind the blocks you might be next to someone who was on your team before and who is now not on your team. There’s a really healthy rivalry. I know the Scots always come into it wanting to beat us on a couple of relays, things like that. It’s great to be part of that.

“There’s quite a few rookies on Team England so I’m the grandma of the team but it helps to have that experience.

“The atmosphere is going to be electric, but you have to try not to get too carried away with what’s going in the village and what’s going on with other athletes.”

Among the other Capital swimmers who will grace the pool in the coming days is 16-year-old Keanna MacInnes.

The Firrhill High School S5 pupil, who swims for Heart of Midlothian, will be involved on day one of the women’s 100m butterfly.

MacInnes said: “Being so young and still at school it took me a while to get used to the fact that I am part of Team Scotland.

“However, since then I have focused on the amazing opportunity and the great thing is that I already know quite a few of the other team members and the other girls who are more experienced like Hannah Miley have always been very nice and have given me tips and pointers.”

MacInnes feels the experience at last year’s World Junior Championships has helped her prepare for this big meet.

She explained: “There was a lot of pressure in America because I was representing Great Britain and I was up against a lot of quality swimmers who I had not come up against before.

“After my heat swim I felt very relaxed and felt that if I just stuck to the processes that had got me that far then I could medal.

“I managed to and I think it gave me confidence and has shown me how to prepare for meets and races as I get ready for the Gold Coast.”

THE LOTHIANS ATHLETES GOING FOR GLORY

Swimming

Craig Benson, Sean Campsie, Keanna MacInnes, Dan Wallace, Lucy Hope, Craig McLean, Craig McNally.

Diving

James Heatly, Lucas Thomson, Grace Reid.

Athletics

Guy Learmonth, Chris O’Hare, Jake Wightman, Lynsey Sharp, Maria Lyle, Kirsten McAslan.

Badminton

Martin Campbell, Julie McPherson.

Basketball

Kyle Jiminez, Sean Nealon-Lino.

Beach volleyball

Robin Miedzybrodzki, Mel Coutts.

Cycling

Callum Skinner (inset) Louise Haston, Jonathan Wale.

Gymnastics

Ellie Russell, Shannon Archer.

Hockey

Chris Grassick, Duncan Riddell, Amy Brodie, Camilla Brown, Amy Costello, Mairi Drummond, Sarah Jamieson.

Bowls

Ronnie Duncan, Alex Marshall, Derek Oliver, Stacey McDougall.

Netball

Emily Nicholl, Joanne Pettitt.

Rugby Sevens

Jamie Farndale, Dougie Fife, Lee Jones, Scott Riddell.

Shooting

Jen McIntosh, Seonaid McIntosh.

Squash

Kevin Moran, Alan Clyne, Greg Lobban, Lisa Aitken, Alison Thomson.

Table tennis

Craig Howieson.

Weightlifting

Micky Yule, Zachary Courtney.

Wrestling

Joe Hendry.