Scottish rivals go head to head in Commie Pool

Ross Murdoch, left, and Michael Jamieson
Ross Murdoch, left, and Michael Jamieson
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A rematch of the Commonwealth Games swimming battle between Ross Murdoch and Michael Jamieson promises to be the highlight at this weekend’s Edinburgh International Long Course event.

Murdoch outspaced the 2012 Olympic silver medallist at Glasgow 2014, so Jamieson will be aiming to turn the tables in the final of the 100m breaststroke at the Royal Commonwealth Pool on Sunday evening.

Glasgow-born Jamieson trained regularly in the Commonwealth Pool when he was part of the City of Edinburgh scheme and finished second in a British record at the London Olympics. However, it was a major shock when he lost to his younger Scottish colleague at Tollcross last summer. Now they will both be bidding to win selection for Great Britain’s 2016 Rio Olympic team.

Jamieson v Murdoch will be just one of the standout tussles at the three-day meet that starts tomorrow and has attracted three American superstars – Natalie Coughlin, Tom Shields and Anthony Ervin – plus a whole load of Britain’s best.

Coughlin won the 100m backstroke at the 2004 and 2008 Olympics, while 32-year-old Ervin was the 50m freestyle gold medallist back in the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney.

For the Edinburgh University trio of Calum Tait, Caitlin McClatchey and Lucy Hope, it is a chance to prepare for the World Championship trials in London next month.

Tait will be in action against Jamieson and Murdoch, and he aims to make a few waves of his own. He showed he could mix it with the best by winning the 2013 Scottish Short-Course title and he made it into the highly competitive breaststroke final at the Commonwealth Games.

“I’m in an event that is as tough as it could be,” said the 20-year-old. “I used to train with Ross and we stayed together at meets when we were both based in the west of Scotland. He was always someone who could pull it out in the big situation. It was really inspiring to see him do so well at the Commonwealth Games.”

Tait, who will be 21 next month, manages to combine his swimming with the demands of a medical degree. Now he hopes to follow in the footsteps of another Edinburgh swimmer who managed to tread the same route, as Ian Edmond was a medical undergraduate with the City of Edinburgh when he made the Olympic breaststroke final at Beijing 2008.

For McClatchey, the goal is to make it to a fifth Olympic Games in Rio.

The 29-year-old is reaching the end of her Masters degree in Performance Psychology – but the double Commonwealth Games Champion from 2006 refuses to mark an end to her glittering swimming career.

“I’m in the last few months of my degree but, even when I’ve finished, I hope to stay on in Edinburgh,” she said. “The facilities are world-class. The gym at the Pleasance, the Commonwealth Pool and the University swim centre are all the very best.”

Hope, from Jedburgh, has just turned 18 and is in the first year of a maths degree at Edinburgh. She was in the Scottish team at the Commonwealth Games and is settling into her new routine.

“I’m swimming in the 100m and 200m freestyle and the 100m and 200m backstroke this weekend and it is the perfect preparation for the British trials in April. I’ve just turned 18 so I might be a bit young for the Olympics next year, but I’ll definitely be going for the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast (in Australia).