Team Scotland unveiled its largest ever aquatics team ahead of the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games - including nine University of Stirling students and alumni.
Commonwealth Games Scotland (CGS) in conjunction with Scottish Swimming confirmed the swimmers who will take to the water at the Tollcross International Swimming Centre when the action gets underway from 24 to 29 July.
And the 40-strong squad includes five current scholarship swimmers and four graduates from Scotland’s University for Sporting Excellence, all of whom train together on campus at the National Swimming Academy under the tutelage of coach Ben Higson.
Set to make her Commonwealth Games debut is second year Psychology student Sian Harkin. The Stirling speedster impressed at back-to-back Tollcross events, posting two times for consideration in the 50m freestyle and 50m butterfly at the Scottish Championships then racing to the silver medal in the 50m freestyle at the British Championships.
“It means everything to be selected and to represent Team Scotland,” said Harkin. “My whole life revolves around swimming. I’m up at five in the morning for training and then back into the pool at night. I just missed out on the Delhi Commonwealth Games so I was even more determined to make the team this time and I’m delighted it paid off.
“To come to Stirling and to be surrounded by a successful group of athletes helps a lot. We are all looking in the same direction and all pushing each other on. There’s no skiving from training as a team-mate will be onto you. They are all a very positive bunch of athletes and I’m very lucky to get to train with them.”
Harkin is supported through the University’s International Sports Scholarship Programme and from national scholarships Winning Students, each ensuring she can balance her studies and training effectively.
She added: “I think it’s very important to study at the same time as I do my swimming. Obviously swimming doesn’t last forever and you have to think to the future. I’m studying psychology at the moment and then I’m looking to do sport psychology after this and then hopefully stay within the sport. The university is very supportive – they understand if I need more time for an assignment because I’m at a competition. It’s a great place to be.”
Also making the team were three members of the freestyle relay team which swam to silver at the Delhi 2010 Commonwealth Games, namely Cameron Brodie, Jak Scott and Lewis Smith.
Joining them in Glasgow is exciting prospect Ross Murdoch, currently top of the world course rankings in the 100m breaststroke following back-to-back Scottish and British Championship titles, setting the Scottish and British records along the way. Murdoch also added the 50m Scottish title and took silver at the British Championships, as well as silver in the 200m Scottish Championships.
Commonwealth Games Scotland Chief Executive and Team Scotland Chef de Mission, Jon Doig said: “Whilst there is a strong core of experience and success at the highest level, I am also excited to see so many new faces on the team who have been inspired to achieve their best in a quest to be part of Team Scotland at a home Games. I wish all of them the very best with their final preparations and look forward to some another successful Games in the pool for Scotland this summer.”
Scottish Swimming Performance Director Ally Whike said: “I have been very pleased with the approach of the swimmers to the challenge of qualification. This will hold them in good stead to perform at the top of their game come July.”
Three further Stirling graduates have also been selected for Team Scotland. Accountancy graduate David McNamee is the only triathlete to be confirmed so far, the 2011 World U23 silver medallist expecting to be joined by five further team-mates for the endurance swim, bike, run event. 2004 BA Hons Marketing graduate Frania Gillen-Buchert will compete in her third Commonwealth Games this summer, in women’s and mixed doubles squash. And Jayne Nisbet, a 2010 Sports Studies graduate, will be keen to hit the heights in the high jump when athletics gets under way at Hampden Park.
There are now 92 athletes selected on Team Scotland with an anticipated final team size in the region of 270 athletes. The aquatics team is expected to grow further, when the Para-Sport swimmers and any other swimmers securing selection times are confirmed.