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Jamieson's Allstar display puts Europe in hunt for Duel success

Michael Jamieson lived up to his status as the hero of the home crowd at Tollcross last night as the European Allstars claimed a 68-54 overnight lead in their bid to beat the USA in a Duel in the Pool for the first time in three attempts.

Michael Jamieson celebrates his 200m breaststroke victory at the Duel in the Pool with the USA at Tollcross last night. Picture: Bill Murray/SNS
Michael Jamieson celebrates his 200m breaststroke victory at the Duel in the Pool with the USA at Tollcross last night. Picture: Bill Murray/SNS

It was as well the only Glaswegian competing had not cut his fingernails too short. As his supporters bit into theirs while simultaneously roaring him on, that was approximately the margin by which Jamieson claimed the win that provided the first real indicator of how much atmosphere can be generated at this superb venue that has been transformed since he trained in it as a teenager.

The 2000 or so spectators crammed around the part of the 2014 Commonwealth Games pool used for the match had previously been slightly disappointed by the Scottish contribution. However, their enjoyment of the evening was lifted by the man who, at last year's Olympics, proved his capacity to respond to home expectation in producing the best performance by a British swimmer.

Hannah Miley had swum twice either side of an appearance from Craig McNally but no Scot had registered a point by the time the 26-year-old took the plunge. Jamieson's 200m breaststroke win by the narrowest of margins over his German team-mate Marco Koch was instrumental in fending off an American fightback as the Europeans surged clear for a second time in an event billed as the Ryder Cup of swimming.

Clearly revelling in the occasion, Jamieson needed no prompting to see his success an indicator that there could be good things to come in the less frenzied but more intense environment to be encountered next year.

"This has been amazing, I can't believe how many people have come out to watch," he said. "This is as close to home as it gets for me and it might sound like a cliche, but the Commonwealth Games next year really is a once-in-a-lifetime job. That is what I am aiming for and this has given me a real sense of what the atmosphere is going to be like."

Certainly every indication is that the more attention Jamieson receives, the better he performs. "The coverage we are getting at the moment is amazing and it's a great thrill to win," said Jamieson, adding that he had expected a tough race from Koch, who had taken bronze behind the Scot's silver at the European Short Course Championships.

In terms of overall atmosphere the event probably served the purpose of helping ready the British contingent for next year's Games but this was otherwise very different from a major championship and not only because the swimmers were competing in a 25-metre pool. The tone for an evening - which also featured gun-toting Santas firing T-shirts into the audience - was set with a live bagpiper, backed by bass and drums, blaring out "I love Rock 'n' Roll" and as the teams were introduced to an enthusiastic reception it was clear that this was very much a showbiz version of the sport.

While the home crowd were naturally disappointed to see Miley finish fourth and so out of the points in the 400m medley in the opening race it otherwise provided an excellent start for the European All Stars with Spain's Mireia Belmonte Garcia winning and England's Aimee Wilmott finishing second, leaving Caitlin Leverenz to collect a solitary point for the USA.

With five points for each race win, three points for runners-up and one for a third-place finish, the scores were immediately levelled when Conor Dwyer, a relay gold medallist in London last year, led the USA home in the men's event ahead of compatriot Chase Kalisz and Europe's David Verrasto. But when both 100m freestyle races produced European wins it was becoming clear this was not going to be anything like as one-sided as on previous occasions.

McNally raced well but finished last in a high-quality four-man 200m backstroke contest before Miley came sixth in the 200m breaststroke. The Americans picked up first and second placed finishes in both to narrow the overall gap to two points and set the stage perfectly for Jamieson.

Just as he when he shone in that struggling British team in London and at last week's European Short Course Championships where he proving he had made a remarkable recovery after a disturbing health scare, the Scot rose to the occasion magnificently.

With every mention of his name generating a rapturous response from the audience, Jamieson maximised the thrills for them.

He trailed early but built momentum, although he never lead at any stage until his final stretch beat Koch to the wall. The quality of their effort was underlined by the fact the only national record swim of the night came from Kevin Cordes, the American who finished third in that race.

The last Scot in action, Robbie Renwick, finished seventh in the evening's final individual race, the 400m freestyle, but after a win apiece in the ensuing 400m medley relays, the Europeans looked well set ahead of the 16 races that will decide matters today.

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