WEST FIFE swimmer Emma Russell set a new Scottish age group record and personal bests on her return to the pool.

The talented teenager, a former pupil at Woodmill High School, was back competing for the first time in a year at the British Swimming Invitation Meet, held in Manchester, over March 12-14.

Taking place under strict COVID-19 protocols, which saw athletes, coaches and staff enter a strict pool-hotel bubble for the duration of the three-day meet, the competition provided Britain's elite swimmers and para-swimmers an opportunity to stake their claim for Olympic and Paralympic selection ahead of next month's British Swimming Selection Trials and British Para-Swimming International Meet.

Emma was taking part in her first competition as both a senior swimmer, and as a representative of the University of Stirling.

Star names such as reigning Olympic 100 metres breaststroke champion Adam Peaty and fellow Stirling competitors Aimee Wilmott, Ross Murdoch and Duncan Scott, joined Emma at the meet, which got off to the best possible start in the women's open 50m freestyle.

With an entry time of 26.14 seconds, she produced a PB of 25.90 to qualify for the 'A' final from her heat, which she bettered again to not only place fourth overall – finishing just 0.10 seconds outside the medals – but earn the Scottish national 17 years age group record.

Day two of competition saw Emma compete in the 50m butterfly, which yielded a PB in the heats of 28.36, and the 200m freestyle, which produced another best time.

Having qualified for the 'A' final in 2:03.07 – her entry time was 2:02.31 – Emma swan 2:02.16 in a race that was won by Freya Anderson, of the University of Bath, in a time of 1:58.23.

There was still time for one more final, which this time arrived in the 100m freestyle on the final day of the meet.

With an entry time of 55.83, Emma's heat swim of 56.13 saw her place fourth overall and go through to the 'A' final, where another PB – this time of 55.82 – rounded off a successful return to competition.

During lockdown, Emma, along with another Woodmill pupil and current Perth City Swim Club member, Ellie Turner, outlined her ambition to be part of next year's Commonwealth Games, which will take place in Birmingham.

In addition to being named in Scottish Swimming's senior gold squad for 2020/21 – after being identified as having either won, or likely to win, medals at competitions such as the Commonwealth Games – Emma was also selected for British Swimming's World Class Programme (WCP) for the same period.

The 53 athletes chosen have been identified by the governing body as having the potential to be successful at future Olympics and World Championships.

Emma was named within the 'podium potential' tier, which comprises athletes whose performances indicate they have realistic capabilities of making the team for Tokyo, and medal potential at those Games, or in 2024.