North Ayrshire’s senior squad swimmers put themselves in a great place building up to the climax of the Scottish short course season with a string of impressive performances at the last West District meet of 2019.
All of the 13 swimmers went home with new PBs from the Senior Age Group Championships at Tollcross
“It was a great weekend for everybody, it was like the team stepped up another gear which is good to see,” says Head Coach, Jess Wilkie. “Hopefully that puts us in a good place for racing at the Scottish Short Course championships in a few weeks time.
“Everybody did what they needed to do and those who were expected to improve their qualifying times managed to do so.”
Rachael Grant headed the medal charge winning a silver and three bronze medals over the weekend.
“Rachael did really well,” says Jess. “It’s probably the first time I’ve had her for a good block of training and seen her race properly after being ill for much of last season. She’s done some good work in the pool and it’s great so see that whatever we’re doing is working for her. It gives me a better idea of what we need to work on going forward.”
Rachael found more than 2 and a half seconds in the tank between the heats and the final of the 200m IM, lifting herself from third spot into second, with a 3.36 second PB. She took almost six seconds off in the tough 400m IM and 200m Fly races for another two bronze medals and claimed her fourth in the 100m Fly with another small PB.
Andrew Sutherland made two finals over the weekend, PB’ing both times, taking 4 seconds off his 200m Free and over 2 seconds from the 100m distance, and was 3 seconds quicker in the 200m IM.
He impressed Jess with his positive attitude across the weekend.
“Andrew swam a really good 100m Free time on the Saturday but just missed out on qualifying for the Short Course,” she recalls. “But he came back on the Sunday and qualified for the 200m, and that’s a really good thing to be able to bounce back from that disappointment, especially over a longer distance.”
14-year-old Matthew Shanks claimed the biggest PBs taking 19 seconds off his 200m IM and more than 12 off his 400m Free. He was in the top 10 for the 200m Free with his 11 second PB giving him 9th place.
“Matthew’s really stepped up and is setting some good times and there’s more to come from him in training. He’s listening well and working hard and he’s learning how to swim rather than just jumping in the pool and plugging away at it.”
Fraser Kelly chipped away at his times taking a bronze medal in the 200m Fly, going half a second quicker on a 2:10.32. He was looking at the big picture with a programme of four races covering each stroke, improving his 100m Free by half a second and taking 5th in the Backstroke with another PB.
Robbie Gray set a clean sweep of PBs in his three events and took his 200m IM time below the 3-minute barrier with a 13 second PB. He was around 5 seconds faster in the 200m Freestyle and Backstroke.
Beth Hill took 5 seconds off her 200m Breaststroke and Nathan Hughes showed great determination in a weekend when he was unwell to find a 10 second improvement in his 400m Freestyle and took 6th place in the 200m Breaststroke with another PB.
Callum Reid made the 100m Fly final with a 1.2 second PB, improving to 9th place in the second swim which was slightly faster again. There was also a small PB in the 100m Backstroke for the 17-year-old.
Jacob Tarran collected 3 new PBs in the 100m events he entered going 2 seconds faster in the Breaststroke and Fly and taking 1 second off his Freestyle. He was also in the top ten for the 200m Fly.
Holly Hopkins found 6 and a half seconds in her 200m Breaststroke and over a second a half in the 100m Free. Harry Hume set PBs in all four of his racings, with a best of more than 5 seconds in the 200m Free and was around 2 seconds faster in the 100m Free and Backstroke.
Cameron McDonald only had one swim but made it count with a 4.23 second PB in the 200m Breaststroke giving him 8th place overall.
“There’s lots to look forward to until the end of the year,” says Jess. “We’ll have another fortnight of hard training before backing off in the run up to the Scottish Short Course, and some of the kids will also be racing at the Ayrshire secondary schools event.
“For the rest of our swimmers the focus for the next few months will be getting the times to qualifying for SNAGS in Aberdeen at Easter.”