The next generation of Scottish swimmers are aiming to follow in the footsteps of their Glasgow 2014 heroes with the announcement of their selection for the 2015 Commonwealth Youth Games.
The Glasgow Games inspired a nation, with Team Scotland delivering a record haul of 53 medals, and Commonwealth Games Scotland (CGS) today announced the six swimmers chosen to take their first steps into Commonwealth competition by representing Youth Team Scotland in Samoa.
The fifth Commonwealth Youth Games will be held in Samoa, 5-11 September 2015 and there is already compelling evidence of the successful role the Youth Games play in an athlete’s development.
To date 66 Scottish athletes have progressed from the youth to the senior Commonwealth Games with 16 going on to win a total of 26 medals for Scotland. Swimming has a particularly glowing past record with Glasgow 2014 medallists Hannah Miley and Robbie Renwick, along with Olympian Craig Benson, among Youth Games alumni.
Samoa bound Tain Bruce is no stranger to comparison with current Team Scotland stars. The 16 year old, who lives in Dalgety Bay and swims for Carneige, erased Hannah Miley’s Age Group 200m Individual Medley record at last summer’s Scottish Championships and has since added 100m and 200m Butterfly records on route to booking her place on Youth Team Scotland. She will compete in those three events in Samoa as well as the 400m IM.
"It is an honour to be selected for Samoa 2015”, said Tain. “It has always been a goal of mine to represent my country and I feel privileged to be able to make my debut in such a beautiful country. I love to travel and learn about new cultures so I can’t wait to experience Samoan life. I am always trying to gain experience in racing new people so these Games are the perfect opportunity for my long term development as an athlete."
Carnegie club mate Craig McLean has set an incredible 48 Scottish and seven British records in the past three years, lifting numerous Scottish and British titles at Youth and Junior level. The 16 year old from Livingston returned from last year’s British Youth Championships with two Gold, a Silver and a Bronze in individual events, both of his victories achieved in British age group records. He won a further three medals in the relay events with his Carnegie team mates including 4x100m Medley Gold in Scottish record time. He is selected in the 100m Freestyle as well as the 100m and 200m Backstroke, all events in which he holds National records. Alongside his extraordinary success in Swimming he is also a black belt in Taekwondo.
“It is an honour to be selected for the Games, he said. “I am looking forward to the international racing experience as part of the Scottish team and hope this is a stepping stone to future success at this level.”
South Ayrshire’s Erin Robertson is selected in the 50m and 100m Breaststroke, events in which she has rewritten the record books. British age group record holder over the longer distance she holds almost every Scottish Age 15 record from 50m to 200m Breaststroke. Into 2015 there has been no let up and she is already the proud holder of the Scottish Age 16 record in 100m Breaststroke, set just 6 days after her 16th birthday in April. Following in her footsteps is younger sister Katie, at 13 years old a similarly prolific record breaker in the younger age groups.
“Being selected to represent Team Scotland in Samoa is a huge step forward in my swimming career,” said Erin. “I am so excited about it! This is the biggest event that I’ve been selected for so far, and competing on the other side of the world with a completely different climate will be a new experience. Being so far away from home will definitely give me an increased sense of responsibility, something which will be very important if I get the chance to compete at an event like this again in the future.”
East Kilbride’s Meg Finnon has already tasted international success with two medals at the 2013 International Children’s Games in Canada. She secured her selection standards at the Scottish Age Group Championships in April and the multiple Scottish Champion is set to compete over 400m and 800m Freestyle plus the 200m Butterfly. She will be joined in Samoa by her coach Andy Figgins who is the Swimming Team Manager for the Games.
"It means the world to me and I'm overjoyed”, she said of her selection to Youth Team Scotland. “I think it will help my sporting career massively by giving me more experience of competing in big competitions abroad. The preparation, build up and whole experience will be a massive stepping stone to competing in more major competitions around the world."
For Stirling teenager Benedict Tortolano, Samoa 2015 will be his first foray into international swimming but he shouldn’t be phased by the competition after a head to head with Glasgow 2014 stars Ross Murdoch and Craig Benson in the top age group at the recent Scottish Age Group Championships in Aberdeen. The 17 year old came up against the duo in the 200m Breaststroke and rose to the occasion taking Bronze in a Youth Games qualifying time before going on to win Gold in the 100m event and Silver in the 50m, both inside the required standard.
Rating qualifying for the Youth Games as the highlight of his career so far he said; “I am honoured to represent Scotland. I’m looking forward to the experience of racing at an international event. It has given me the confidence to go forward in my swimming career and the determination swim faster.”
Benedict will be joined in the 200m Breaststroke by Stonehaven ASC swimmer Kieran Preston who finished close behind in 4th at the Scottish Age Group Championships. Kieran also finished 4th at the British Junior Championships.
Swimming events will take place at the Tuana’imato Sports Facility in Samoa’s capital Apia, purpose built for the 2007 Pacific Island Games and refurbished for the Youth Games.
Alan Lynn, National Coach for Scottish Swimming said: “Congratulations to the swimmers on their selection. As a first multi-sport Games experience, the Commonwealth Youth Games is a fantastic event to learn about the challenges of being part of something bigger than your sport.
“Several outstanding senior performers have used the Youth Games as a springboard to a successful career and I look forward to seeing this happen with this year’s group. Experiencing not only the competition, but the travel, the culture and the camaraderie of a Commonwealth event will serve them well and I wish them every success."
Elinor Middlemiss, General Team Manager said: “I’m delighted to welcome such a strong squad of swimmers onto Youth Team Scotland. Several hold Scottish records and the times set by all six in the qualifying period were extremely impressive. I’m sure they will represent the team with distinction in Samoa and I look forward to watching their progress over the next few months.”
The Commonwealth Youth Games concept was developed by Scotland as a development opportunity to introduce athletes under the age of 18 to an international multi-sport Games. This experience helps to bridge the gap between young athletes competing in their own sport specific competitions and the testing experience of a first Commonwealth Games.
Following the announcement of Lawn Bowls athletes in March, Swimming is the second sport to complete its selection process for Samoa 2015. Further team announcements will be made later this month, with the final sports and full team being announced on 30 June 2015.