We’re reflecting on what’s surely one of the busiest weekends of the year for our swimmers which saw the staging of part one of the Club Championships, plus the final round of the 2019 Clyde Coast Mini League.
For the first time in a long while representatives from every section of the club were taking part in the championships, with the Masters in the pool alongside Development, Juniors, Seniors and Synchro.
And when we say 'alongside' we really do mean that we had mums and dads in their 40s and 50s racing head-to-head against swimmers as young as 11.
“It was great to have all the squads represented. There seemed to be a really good atmosphere in the seats, and I think a lot of the parents enjoyed it,” says Head Coach, Jess Wilkie.
“All the kids had a good time. It also was good to see the seniors trying out some different things with their races, like really sprinting the first 25m and trying to hold on. Andrew Sutherland was trying to go 10m off every wall in the 200m freestyle and surprised himself with the time he set.
“It’s always important not to think too much about the time but about the race and skill points which you can try to build into your racing when you’re not under a lot of pressure.”
Junior Coach, Alan Dickson, echoes her comments: “The turnout was superb – not only from the kids but also the parent helpers.
“It was a very long day but that’s just a reflection of the growth of the club in recent years.”
The championships are swum across two events in the year. At this first one the swimmers take on 4 or 5 events across all strokes, including one distance event, depending on their age.
“It’s a really tough test but I don’t make any apology for that,” says Alan.
“It’s a really great place for the younger swimmers to take on some new events. It was heartening to see so many heats of the 400m free and a lot of the kids were doing that for the first time. I also noticed some big drops among those who had done it before.
“Some of the Gold squad kids took on the 800m which was superb.
“I try to get them to think about it as a training opportunity and a chance to swim something in a competition setting that you wouldn’t normally get the chance to do and it’ll stand them in good stead.
“A few of them are talking about taking on the 800m at West Districts next year, and maybe even the 1500m, and it’s amazing how the anticipation of doing it is a lot worse that actually swimming it.”
Stage 2 of the championships are the sprint races later in the year. The points from both events will be combined to decide on this year’s age group champions which will be revealed at our Awards Night at the end of the year.
There was also a special presentation on poolside for Sam Currie who – finally – received his 8-year-old boy trophy from 2018 after a new shield was commissioned.
Sunday saw swimmers from the Silver and Gold squad catching a ferry to Dunoon once again for our third-round match in the Clyde Coast Mini League.
It always promised to be the toughest of the three fixtures with North Ayrshire drawn against Inverclyde and West Dunbartonshire.
Inverclyde were the hosts, but due to continuing technical issues with the movable floor at the Waterfront in Greenock the match was staged across the Clyde in Dunoon.
“The Mini League was back to its best after a slightly flat second round and it was an exhilarating day’s racing,” comments Alan,
“The first ten races were superb, and all our girls performed out of their skins.
“Of the 32 individual events 26 of them were faster than they were in Round 2.
“In the early stages we were only a few points behind, and you started to think we could give Inverclyde and real run for their money, but they are so strong at the Mini League with strength in depth.”
Our team ended up with a very strong second place with the final scores:
North Ayrshire 158
West Dunbartonshire 116
There’s every indication that our win and two second places should be enough to get North Ayrshire a place in the ‘A’ final next month, for the second year in a row, when points totals for all teams are confirmed.
Alan was delighted with the performances put in by the younger members of the squad in particular.
“Emily McGuire and Ruby McInnes were outstanding, winning three of their four events,” he enthuses.
“Evie Chan swam really well, adding a couple of first and second places as well as swimming up the age groups in the relays. She didn’t look tired at all at the end!
“Niamh Hamilton and Emma Binnie both pulled out the stops with fantastic swims. Niamh in her breaststroke executing the race plan to perfection and pulling out a 2 second PB.
“Emma has been working really hard on her breathing cycle in the butterfly and she nailed it with another PB.
“The older girls were up against a really strong set of West Dunbartonshire 11-year olds, including some to the best in Scotland, but they were being taken all the way.
“The boys all chipped in. Sam Currie and Cameron Gibson had a win each. Lewis Bray gave it his all, and a special thanks to Alistair Street who came in at the last minute for someone who didn’t turn up and set a nice PB in his 50m backstroke.”
“The pool in Dunoon is superb and the crowd are almost on poolside and they were making some fantastic noise and thanks to everyone who made the trip and was so vocal support the teams, helping to make it a fantastic day out.”