AIMEE WILLMOTT is hoping to compete in four different events after being named in the England swimming squad for this summer’s Commonwealth Games.
The 21-year-old Teessider was the only North-East swimmer in the 39-strong England team that was announced yesterday, although Hartlepool’s Jemma Lowe will also be in Glasgow competing for Wales.
Willmott is guaranteed to swim in her preferred event, the 400m Individual Medley, and the 200m butterfly after comfortably securing the qualifying time for both disciplines in the recent British Gas Championships.
However, she is also hoping to make the start line for the 200m Individual Medley and 400m freestyle as she attempts to broaden her horizons in the lead up to the 2016 Olympics in Rio.
“It’s still a bit up in the air, but I’d like to swim the four events if possible,” said Willmott, who finished ninth in the 400m IM at last year’s World Championships. “It’s still to be confirmed, but that’s the plan at the moment.
“The 400m IM will be the main focus, and I was happy with the way I swam that at the trials. To be honest, my time for the 200m fly at the trials was quite a bit quicker than I expected so I’ll definitely be swimming that too.
“But I’d like to do another couple of events because in the future, I’d like to have at least one more event that I could swim internationally as well as the 400m IM.
“My times have come down a fair bit recently, and that’s enabled me to think much more seriously about competing in other events at world level. This year gives me a chance to try that, and hopefully set myself up for the world stage properly next year.”
Having impressed at the trials, Willmott was always going to feature in the English squad for the Commonwealths, which begin on July 24.
The 400m IM final, which should see Willmott going head-to-head with Scotland’s Hannah Miley, is scheduled for the opening night of competition, and while her presence was always expected, the Middlesbrough ASC member is happy to have had her place in the team confirmed.
“It’s nice to know exactly what’s happening,” she said. “We didn’t know who else was going to be in the team – it’s all been a bit hush-hush to this point – so it’s been nice to be able to talk to other people and congratulate them on making the squad.”
Fran Halsall, who won five medals for Team England in Delhi four years ago, will again be one of the leading medal hopes in this year’s squad, with double Commonwealth champion Liam Tancock set to be one of the key members of the men’s team.
However, the presence of a number of youngsters gives the squad a somewhat unfamiliar feel, and as a veteran of Olympic, World, European and Commonwealth competitions, Willmott is happy to play the unusual role of an elder stateswoman.
“It feels a bit strange to be one of the older members of the team, but after four full years at this level, that’s the position I’m in now,” she said. “I’m not saying I’ll be showing people what to do, but if any of the younger swimmers want a bit of advice, I’ll definitely be trying to help them.
“I remember my first Commonwealth Games as a teenager, and it was a real eye-opening experience. If I can pass on even one little tip, that’ll be great.”