Time now the enemy as Scots swimmer struggles to stop the rot as Rio looms large
AFTER winning a remarkable silver medal at London 2012, Michael Jamieson has admitted that he has severe doubts about whether he will even make it to a second Olympic Games. The 27-year-old was only able to finish in sixth place in the 200m breaststroke at the Edinburgh International last night but the more worrying thing was his time. Jamieson finished in 2 minutes 16.13 seconds which leaves him with a significant improvement needed if he is to make it into Team GB for the Rio Olympics.
The British Olympic trials are in just four over weeks’ time. And with a raft of world-class British breaststrokers fighting for just two places, Jamieson knows that a much-improved performance will be required.
“This is rubbish and miles away from where I need to be,” he said, “especially when nobody is doing anything special. It is not like I am not capable of the times that are kicking around just now. I do not want to overreact, I have still got another month (until the trials), but usually I am swimming 2:10 at this stage of the season so I am quite a bit off.”
Jamieson has had a notoriously tough time of late. He famously lost out to his compatriot, Ross Murdoch, for gold at Glasgow 2014 and then missed out on selection for the World Championships last year.
For an athlete of Jamieson’s class, this loss of form is clearly hitting him hard. “I am just getting a bit fed up swimming like this,” he said. “Overall, I still have the belief but I am not swimming world-class times. All the respect in the world to the guys next to me but I know I should be head and shoulders in front. I do not know what else I can do and at the moment — I have got a long way to go. There have been a number of times I have been holding back the tears over the last couple of years — I do not want it to finish but it is hard to take, swimming like this. I care so much about it, I do not want it to be over.”
After missing out on World Championship selection last year — the first major championship he had not been selected for since 2009 — Jamieson relocated from Bath to Edinburgh in an attempt to reignite his career. The move has not proved quite as successful as he had hoped, though.
“I made the move to try to address a few of the issues with my speed but it has almost gone the opposite way, it has regressed even more,” he said. “When you change programme, you have got to buy into it 100 per cent and I have done. I am doing everything I have been asked. Sometimes a change works, sometimes it does not.
“In Bath, I was doing a similar training model and obviously I had some great results but I wanted to change it because I wanted to be the first guy to go 2:06. It was a gamble but I would rather be going for it than settling for the results I have had in the past and I take responsibility for that move. The physiological adaptations seem to be pretty muted now whereas when I was a bit younger, I could respond to training stimulus quickly. And we are running out of time.”
Jamieson may be demoralised but, encouragingly, he has not stopped looking for solutions. He said: “I am thinking about this non-stop. I am talking to as many people as I can and I have got all the analysis. My physiological make-up suggests it is still there. But transferring it into the water just now seems to be the problem.”
TOUGH TIMES: Michael Jamieson is ‘usually swimming 2:10 at this stage of the season’ as he strives for Olympic selection