SWIM Bournemouth’s Jay Lelliott will compete in a Commonwealth Games final tomorrow night, just two days after making his international debut for England.
The 19-year-old from Portland today knocked a second off his 1500m freestyle personal best to claim the eighth and final lane for the longest event in the pool.
He will face a top-class line-up set to include Canada’s Ryan Cochrane, the defending champion who won silver and bronze in London and Beijing respectively.
Lelliott found himself in lane three in a heat flanked by Wales’ European junior champion Daniel Jervis and Australia’s world junior champion Mack Horton.
The two 18-year-olds came first and second in the heat and Lelliott was clearly working hard to stick with them.
He lost touch three or four lengths from the end but finished fourth in the heat and eighth overall in 15min 11.89sec – a one-second PB but a 23-second improvement on his Dorset senior record.
Lelliott was delighted to get into the final but disappointed with his time.
“I knew I was in good shape as I did a three-second PB in the 4x200m relay on Sunday,” he said.
“Although 15:11 was a PB, I was hoping to do a better time.
“I had some big guys next to me and I think I didn’t focus on my race as well as I should have done.
“But I’m really enjoying the Games. The atmosphere is absolutely incredible.”
Lelliott, who survived two operations for a recurrent brain tumour when he was 12, lives at Portland but trains with Swim Bournemouth when not at university.
The club booked the theatre at Canford School today so his club-mates could watch on the big screen and cheer him on.
The theatre is also booked for tomorrow night so they can watch the final – one of the last swimming events in Glasgow.
The 1500m heat was expected to be Lelliott’s international debut but that came 24 hours earlier, when he made an unexpected appearance as England’s lead-off man in the heats of the men’s 4x200m freestyle relay.
Lelliott certainly played his part, clocking 1:49.72 off the gun, a significantly faster split than his other team members, two of which competed at London 2012.
The time also knocked more than four seconds off Martin Littlefair’s Dorset senior 200m freestyle record from 2010.
Meanwhile, Bournemouth Collegiate School coach Zoe Baker’s British record for the 50m breaststroke has finally been toppled 12 years after it was set – but only by the slimmest margin.
City of Leeds swimmer Sophie Taylor recorded 30.56 in the heats in Glasgow, shaving 0.01sec off the time set by Baker at the Manchester Commonwealth Games in 2002.
Baker’s time, which won her the gold, was also a world record at the time.