Smith moves up a gear but Pavoni is still too fast

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HOME na­tion ri­valry is one of the in­trigu­ing twists of the Com­mon­wealth Games and there was a taste of what lies ahead this sum­mer when Roberto Pavoni edged out Lewis Smith to win the 400m in­di­vid­ual med­ley at last night’s Bri­tish Gas Cham­pi­onships at Toll­cross In­ter­na­tional Cen­tre in Glas­gow.

Smith was fastest in the heats and had al­ready won the Scot­tish ti­tle last Sun­day to claim his place in Team Scot­land. Five days later and he posted a faster time (4:15.76) – but had to set­tle for sil­ver to Pavoni’s 4:12.24.

It was a per­sonal best for the 23-year-old English­man, who had his par­ents and his brother in the crowd for sup­port. “The last time I did a PB was at the 2012 Olympic tri­als and that seems a long time ago,” said the Lough­bor­ough swim­mer. “I swam in the Duel in the Pool here in De­cem­ber and that was the best meet ever. Now it’s nice to have my name on the Com­mon­wealth Games list and be ready to come back this sum­mer.”

For Smith, it was an­other move in the right di­rec­tion. “It felt bet­ter than last week but I still want to go faster,” said the Univer­sity of Stir­ling 26-year-old. “I am also go­ing to try and get a 200m med­ley qual­i­fy­ing time.”

War­ren­der’s Craig Benson handed him­self a Games life­line. At last week’s Scot­tish Cham­pi­onships, the 19-year-old fin­ished third in the fi­nal in 1:01.58, 0.01sec out­side the stan­dard. He clocked a quicker 1:01.42 and now needs a re­peat in tonight’s fi­nal to claim his 2014 berth. Benson was just 17 when he qual­i­fied for the Lon­don Olympics and it would be heart­break­ing for the young­ster if he didn’t make it to his home Com­mon­wealths.

Ross Mur­doch, the Scot­tish record holder, won his semi-fi­nal in 1:00.16, ahead of Olympic sil­ver medal­list, Michael Jamieson (1:00.85). Adam Peaty won the other semi in a swift 59.83sec.

Eng­land’s James Guy, who had set a Bri­tish record in the 400m on Thurs­day, added an­other gold in the 200m freestyle, al­though his time of 1:47.54 was al­most a sec­ond slower than Rob­bie Ren­wick’s Scot­tish Cham­pi­onship vic­tory.

“It’s nice to be a dou­ble Bri­tish cham­pion but I am a lit­tle dis­ap­pointed that I didn’t go faster,” said the 18-year-old Euro­pean Ju­nior cham­pion. “But I am happy with my form for this time of year. There is plenty more speed to come.”

Ed­in­burgh Univer­sity’s Cor­rie Scott, the Scot­tish cham­pion, took the bronze medal in the 50m breast­stroke. Scott’s fel­low Com­mon­wealth Games qual­i­fiers, An­drea Strachan (31.85sec) and Kathryn Johnstone (32.06sec), fol­lowed her home in fourth and fifth. The win­ner was Eng­land’s Sophie Tay­lor, who set a new per­sonal best of 30.98sec.

Scot­land’s Dun­can Scott won the Bri­tish Ju­nior 200m freestyle and set a per­sonal best of 1:49.88. It was his first swim un­der the mag­i­cal 1:50.00 bar­rier and he fin­ished more than a sec­ond ahead of Hat­field’s Mar­tyn Wal­ton.

ALL-OUT: Lewis Smith in the 400m in­di­vid­ual med­ley

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