The University of Stirling reinforced its dominance in Scottish swimming this week as the team claimed 49 medals and six national records at the Scottish Short Course Championships in Edinburgh.
It was an emphatic performance at the Royal Commonwealth Pool, with the squad winning a total of 19 gold, 21 silver and 9 bronze medals and topping the overall club table with almost double the points of its nearest rival.
Mark Szaranek and Ross Murdoch led the way with a hat-trick of individual titles each. The in-form Szaranek won gold in the 200m and 400m individual medley and 200m butterfly events whilst Murdoch, on the back of some strong performances at last week’s European Championships, took home the top prize in the 50m, 100m and 200m breaststroke.
In winning the 50m and 100m events, Murdoch broke the respective Scottish records and he was delighted with how things went at the meet. He said: “I said I wanted to use last week as a bit of a springboard and it has really helped my skills. I found I was hitting all my walls, all of my breakouts were solid and my dives have been amazing so far. It’s great to keep moving things on.”
Mark Szaranek matched Murdoch's hat-trick of golds.
Craig McNally had an equally impressive event, winning gold in the 100m and 200m backstroke, smashing his personal best and taking over a second off the existing Scottish record in the 200m. He said: “I knew there was a quick swim in me. I never do well in training or in season but I had quite a good swim at BUCS and training has been going well so I knew a fast swim was coming. I was trying to get as close as I could to the 1:50 or 1:49 mark but it’s over a second PB and I really can’t complain.”
Craig McNally set a personal best and new Scottish record in the 200m backstroke.
There were also individual golds for Calum Bain (50m butterfly, 50m freestyle), Kathleen Dawson (50m and 100m backstroke), Danielle Huskisson (800m and 1500m freestyle), Martyn Walton (50m backstroke) and Craig McLean (100m freestyle).
In the relay events, Stirling made their presence felt, with Walton, McLean, Duncan Scott and Scott McLay setting a new British record en-route to victory in the 4 x 50m freestyle. Murdoch then joined Walton, Scott and McLay to break the British club record in the 4 x 50m medley whilst Murdoch and McLean made more history with Kathleen Dawson and Keanna MacInnes with a new Scottish record in the 4 x 100m mixed medley.
Reflecting on the meet, University of Stirling Head Performance Swimming Coach, Steven Tigg, said: “Really happy with how things have gone this weekend. There have been some real big steps in the right direction looking towards the (British) Trials, and some real positive performances that I think will keep people motivated over Christmas and into the long course part of the season.
“This is a great squad. If you look across Europe it’s probably one of the strongest groups of swimmers you’ll collect. Myself, Brad and Josh all enjoy the privilege of getting to work with these guys. It keeps us motivated as well, it keeps us hungry, it keeps us excited about what this year and beyond can bring.”
With the £20m pound redevelopment of the University sports facilities due for completion in the summer, Tigg is looking forward to what the future holds. He said: “The support from the University, Scottish Swimming, British Swimming, the sportscotland Institute is massive for us. It is a really exciting time at the University seeing the new facility being built and for a training environment in particular, I think it will be unrivalled across the UK and perhaps even further afield.”
The University of Stirling has been Scotland’s University for Sporting Excellence since 2008 and is The Times / Sunday Times Good University Guide’s UK Sports University of the Year 2020. The University offers an unrivalled all-round environment for excellence in sport education, research, participation, and performance.