ROSS Murdoch sets himself a quest for perfection by taking precisely 12 strokes to squirm his way through the water at speed from one end to the other. Last night, in the 200 metres breaststroke final at the British Swimming Championships, he required 13 to cover the opening length. One for luck, as it transpired. The 25-year-old delivered the fourth-quickest time of his career of two minutes and 7.96 seconds, just when it was truly required.

It was still only enough for second behind James Wilby, his successor as Commonwealth Games champion from Gold Coast last year. A triumph, of sorts, for the Scot who has diligently re-grouped and renewed himself following a season of under-achievement which some wondered might leave him irrevocably submerged.

By his own admission, he went out a little too fast. Just as he threatened a surge towards victory, the tanks fell empty. Yet with both men inside the qualifying standard for July’s world championships in Gwangju, there was ample reward.

“I’m just delighted to show something for all the work I’ve put in,” Murdoch said. “To not have a personal best for a while is tough for keeping the motivation up. I’ve been chasing my time from 2014 Commonwealth Games for quite a while now. To see that little things are coming along, and then to see that a tactical error could have possibly changed the result, it’s looking really positive. And that should definitely be good enough to get to South Korea.”

Under British Swimming’s policy, Wilby’s place is secure. Murdoch must await the formalities of Monday’s selection meeting. He will travel eastward, no doubt, with head coach Bill Furness the first to offer his praise for technical refinements paying dividends.

“The skills really have come on,” Murdoch acknowledged. “I really wanted to work on the starts and turns. You can see that improvement.”

Todd Cooper’s Scottish record in the 100 metres butterfly, which had stood since 2008, now belongs to Duncan Scott whose time of 52.25 secs took silver behind event master Jimmy Guy. A nice bonus, said the Olympic medallist, whose assaults on the 200m freestyle and individual medley this weekend are of greater personal importance.

“I wouldn’t say qualification in that event is something I’m particularly going for,” Scott acknowledged.

His training partner at the University of Stirling, Scott McLay, was fifth but the teenager’s burgeoning status might well see him Korea-bound. While berths are only certain for those winning at these trials in the required qualifying time, there is ample latitude to bring in bright young prospects with the relays in mind.

They do not want to flog prize horses like Scott, Guy and Ben Proud to death but to let them loose when the medals are up for grabs. Hence someone like the 19-year-old could get his feet wet with an individual swim – valuable experience 12 months out from the Olympics – and then take the plunge in the team events. “That’s what this meet was for me: to get noticed when it comes to selections,” McLay said. “Hopefully I’ve done that in the freestyle and the butterfly.”

Jessica Fullalove slashed her personal best to win the 200m backstroke with Kat Greenslade third and 14-year-old Glaswegian Katie Shanahan underlining her immense potential with seventh. Fullalove’s is the feelgood story of this season, rebounding from the physical and emotional traumas of breaking each of her hands in freak collisions in the training pool over the past two years.

“The second time I felt was the end,” the Lancastrian confessed while fighting back the tears. “I didn’t know if I’d be able to come back from it. But I had a really good support system around me and I knew I hadn’t reached my full potential yet.”

Elsewhere, Freya Anderson snared the women’s 100-200 metres freestyle double with victory over the shorter distance in 53.79 seconds with Lucy Hope the leading Scot in fourth.