Aimee Willmott is hoping to play the role of party-pooper when the Commonwealth Games swimming programme gets underway today.
Middlesbrough’s Willmott has had one of the shortest journeys of the 39-strong England squad to Glasgow, but there will be no sense of home when she steps out at the Tolcross International Swimming Centre on the opening day.
Going up against local favourite and current Commonwealth champion Hannah Miley in the 400 metres individual medley casts her as an immediate south-of-the-border villain, and she is relishing the role.
The 21-year-old is good friends with Miley as a result of swimming with her in the Great Britain programme, but knows what striking a blow against her could do both for herself and the rest of the England team.
“There’s a lot of competition there between me and Hannah now that we have split between Scotland and England and I think that because we have had the competition and rivalry between us, my performance has improved quite a lot,” said Willmott, who was 11th in the 400m IM at London 2012.
Willmott is boosted by the knowledge that she pipped Miley when the pair last raced in January but knows a partisan crowd will be keen to see the balance redressed.
“I’m looking forward to getting in and racing Hannah and seeing what happens,” she added. “It could be mine on the day, it could be Hannah’s.”
Although used to being team-mates with Miley and sharing the same support, the battle to silence the home fans is one Willmott is excited about. The Commonwealths are the only event on the swimming calendar where Great Britain splits and she hopes she can be a trailblazer for the rest of the England squad.
“I’ve not thought about it too much – me against Hannah and the rest of Scotland – but I suppose it is!” she said.
“On the day I am just going to do everything that I’ve done and not really worry what’s going on around me, or how Hannah has swam in the heats.”
Yorkshire’s strong contingent of swimmers sees Sheffield’s Eleanor Faulkner and Rotherham’s Rebecca Turner go for glory in the women’s 200m freestyle, with the heats this morning and the final this evening.
Turner is also in the 4x100m squad, the final of which is this evening, while their City of Sheffield clubmate Nicholas Grainger hopes to reach tonight’s men’s 400m freestyle final.