Next weeks’ European championships see a small band of five British swimmers heading to Debrecen to test out their Olympic preparations in the heat of continental competition. Amongst those making the trip will be Michael Jamieson, who will make a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it visit to Hungary’s second city as he looks to sharpen his racing skills, and to pit himself against his rivals.
It’s a long way to go for one event; Jamieson will fly in on Tuesday, compete in the 200m breaststroke heats and semi-finals on Wednesday and all being well the final on Thursday before returning to his training base in Bath on Friday. But despite the demanding schedule, it was a chance that was too good to miss.
It’s a good opportunity to see where I’m at just now training has been going really well and I’m feeling pretty confident” Says Jamieson. “I’m looking to post a confidence boosting time really against some of Europe’s best and guys who will be in the mix in summer”
“There some Europeans that will be racing who will be challenging for spots in the Olympic final and medals in the summer”. Those potential rivals include reigning world champion Daniel Gyurta, who will race in front of a home crowd, as well as Luxembourg’s Laurent Carnol and Germanys Marco Koch, both of whom site above Jamieson in the 2012 rankings.
“I kind of see it as an opportunity to race them and try out my race plan against them.” says Jamieson, who has been working on refining his race plan and approach to the event since a trials performance that feel below his high expectations, the changes aimed at making him competitive with the best in the world in time for London.
“This season my focus has been on developing my front end speed.” he explains. “Since the World Championships last year I’ve been trying to force myself to go out faster over the first 100 – if you look at the guys who are going to be challenging this summer for medals [in the 200m], you’ll see that they have the ability to swim sub 60 for the 100.
“So to challenge for the finals in that event that’s something I’ve been working on and that’s another reason for racing next week; it gives me another opportunity to test out my front end speed, because the more opportunities I get to try and execute that the better”
But while there will be further opportunities to race over the summer before the Olympic circus rolls into Stratford, the chance to race over the championship format of heats, semis, finals is a big draw.
“There’s not many times in swimming season you have the opportunity to race the 3 rounds. I will be racing 1 maybe 2 legs of the Mare Nostrum as well, and I’d like to post 3 fast times between now and the Games. That gives me 3 opportunities to race these guys again, to get to know them to get to know their race plan as well as the most important thing obviously to try and execute my own one. It’s a chance to build confidence and momentum heading into the Games.”
Back at home that confidence has been boosted by some of his best ever training, with thousands of metres put in alongside the man who beat him to Olympic qualification in March, Andrew Willis, who also trains at Bath. “Andrew’s a really good lad and a really good friend,” says Michael, before hinting at the rivalry that bubbles underneath “I’m desperate for him to swim well this summer, but I want that number 1 spot and I was disappointed to miss out on that at trials. Since then training has been going really well and I’ve been a lot more consistent, than I have been in the past”
That consistency could be vital when the battles in the pool start in July, but for now the focus is all on the Europeans, with Jamieson not discounting the chance of returning with some morale boosting hardware.
“Obviously it would be nice to go there and get in the mix in the final and maybe even get a podium place” he says, relishing the challenge that sits ahead if he is to reach the top three places: “It’s going to be pretty tough but I’m looking forward to it”.