North Ayrshire’s junior swimmers began their season with a series of dominant swims at the weekend.
The team collected an enormous haul of 95 medals as swimming galas returned to the Portal following the summer shutdown.
West FM Cash For Kids mascot ‘Courage the Cat’ was also on poolside to support the club’s efforts to raise £1000 in the month of September for the Big Charity Sports Challenge appeal.
“There was a great turnout from our swimmers and it was good to see so many other clubs coming along to compete as well,” reflects Head Coach, Jess Wilkie.
“It was fantastic for the club to have around 30 swimmers racing in every session, and it shows that there is a great depth in the junior squads which is always what we’re looking for.
“I thought the performances were excellent but there’s still a lot of work to be done on skills and consistency, but I can see that a lot of what we’ve been doing is beginning to pay off when the kids are competing.
“I was really impressed by the swimmers who took on the 400m freestyle and I’d like to encourage more of them to give it a go because they might find they’re more suited to it than sprint racing.
“We were inundated with medals and PBs and it was great to see some new faces helping out on poolside and behind the scenes.”
Saturday saw swimmers who are 11 years and older competing in what is called the Development meet, while Sunday was for those 10 and under and known as the Foundation meet.
Six swimmers managed to beat their entry times in every event on the first day, with 14-year-old Cameron McDonald taking 9 seconds off his 200m breaststroke to break the entry time barrier and go home with a ‘Swam Too Fast’ medal, which is one of the features of these meets and highly sought-after. All three swimmers in his age group were under 3:12 but Cameron was the fastest on a 3:05.07. He also won a gold medal in the 100m breaststroke.
Angus Wark lowered his mark six times in a row, picking up two gold medals for 100m fly and 200m backstroke. A 7 second improvement in the 200m was good enough for a silver medal and he won another in the 100m free. He also visited the podium on his first swim of the day with a bronze in the 100m backstroke.
Lauren Peckover collected some of the biggest PBs taking more than 18 seconds off her 200m breaststroke and backstroke times, while Jamie Saunderson took 13 and a half seconds off his 200m freestyle on the way to a bronze medal.
Erin Finlayson took home a gold medal for her 400m IM which was a 1.86 second improvement, finishing on 7:37.59. Rhys Hanlonbole found nearly 9 seconds as he won his 100m fly for 13-year-olds and won bronze medals for his 100m and 200m freestyle races, and narrowly missed out on a podium with his fourth PB in the 200m IM.
Ella Bruce and Caelin Chan were among the ‘STF’ crowd with Ella Bruce ducking under the time in her 400m free with a near 8 second improvement. Caelin was 11 seconds faster than her entry in the 100m fly posting a 1.30.26 and a 3:39.79 in the testing 200m event.
Lewis Gibson only made one appearance over the weekend and was well under the limit for 11-year-olds in the 400m, topping the times with a 6:01.36 to collect his medal.
Fraser Mathie made the top ten with his 200m free, improving by 2 seconds for a 3:10.20. He had two other PBs in the 100m backstroke and breast but didn't get placings on the final results because he was entered for a 'time only' swim.
12-year-old Daniel Convery was, however, and went home with four of them, taking two golds in the 100m and 200m backstroke - both PBs – and silver medals for the 200m free and IM.
Ciara Convery was setting her first times in three events and had a best placed finish of 8th in the 200m backstroke.
Niamh Hamilton was delighted with two gold medals for her 200m breaststroke and freestyle, taking off around six seconds in both races, and getting a brace of silver medals for her 200m backstroke and 100m breaststroke. Niamh also took a minute and 6 seconds off her 400m free time which placed her fifth among the 11-year-olds.
Holly Hopkins helped herself to a hattrick of gold medals in the 100m and 200m breaststroke and the 100m freestyle, adding a bronze in the 200m race.
James Stuart made five visits to the podium with golds in the 400m IM and 200m breaststroke, and silvers for the 100m and 200m backstroke and the 400m free, with three PBs to show for it.
Robbie Gray was awarded a silver medal for his 200m backstroke, but the better swim was his 400m freestyle where he found over 20 seconds to finish in 5:53.30 for third place, and Cameron Hamill took 15 seconds off his 200m breaststroke for a silver medal.
Scott Kean won three silver medals with his highlight being a 13 second PB in the 100m fly, as well as an improvement in the 400m free, and was just four one hundredths over in his 200m IM.
Zoe Matchett found 15 seconds to claim a bronze for her 200m free and won another with a PB in the 200m breaststroke.
Stewart Reid was a double bronze medallist, in the 100m breaststroke with a 4 second PB, and had his first crack at the 400m free setting a 6:13.21.
Boyd Naughton was over 5 seconds faster in his 100m free for a bronze and just missed the podium in the backstroke and breaststroke, and Pol O’Connor found 16 seconds in his 200m backstroke,
Philip Hinchcliffe took 9 seconds off his 100m breaststroke to claim a 5th place in 1:40.01.
Sarah Judge improved her 100m freestyle by 21 second and Niamh Boyd took off nearly 7 seconds in the first event of Saturday afternoon.
Rachel McDonald improved in her 100m backstroke and 200m breaststroke while Rebecca Shanks was unlucky not to win medals for her 200m backstroke and 400m free, which were both PBs and enough for 4th places. A 12 second PB in the 200m freestyle would have been good enough for a silver, but she was swimming for 'time only' in that event.
On Sunday three of our girls dominated their age groups to win medals every time they swam.
Emma Binnie set close to a 10 second PB to go ‘too fast’ in the 200m free at 2:58.13. She won two gold medals for the 100m and 200m IM, with improvements in the region of 5 seconds, a silver in the 400m free, with a 21 second drop, and a bronze in the 100m breaststroke.
Evie Chan’s ‘STF’ came in the 100m fly where she beat the 9-year-old limit with a 1:40 dead. She won four gold medals in the 50m backstroke, 200m IM, 100m backstroke and 100m free, and had to satisfy herself with silver in the 50m breaststroke.
Kate Stuart opened her account with a time-busting 1:28.27 to top the list for the 100m IM for 10-year-olds, then followed that up with gold medal swims in the 400m free and 50m breaststroke and took silver in the 100m race.
Sam Currie claimed a hattrick of golds with an enormous 42 second improvement to top the 100m breaststroke for 8-year-old boys. He found 22 seconds to win the 200m freestyle and came out top in the 50m sprint as well. Another 23 second drop was enough for bronze in the 100m IM and he took silver for his 50m breaststroke.
Lewis Bray improved in all his events as he won gold medals for his 50m fly and free sprints. The 9-year-old was second in the 100m IM and 100m breaststroke and won two more bronze medals for his 50m breast and 100m free.
Ruby McInnes went home with four gold medals, setting a 19 second improvement to win the 100m breaststroke for 8-year-olds in 1:55.97. She was 21 seconds faster in the 200m IM on 3:30.97 and won the 100m event with a PB before a 9 second improvement in the 200m freestyle. She finished off her day with a silver medal in the 100m backstroke.
Cameron Gibson took a gold medal as he set a new benchmark of 1:49.64 in his 100m breaststroke and Kyle Saunderson smashed his entry time in the 200m free by 39 seconds to take a bronze medal.
Kouper Sloss won a gold medal in the 200m freestyle and silver in the 50m race, but he’ll have been happier with his bronze medal for 100m back where he was over 8 seconds faster. There was a another 3rd place in the 100m IM with an improvement of more than 4 and a half seconds.
Cerys MacKellar had a clean sweep and was faster than her entry in all six races with a best of 8th in the 100m free, with an 11 second improvement, and top 10 swims in the 100m IM and 50m breast. Her 50m backstroke time of 47.71 was good enough for her to make the Scottish Schools Renfrewshire qualifying round.
Emily McGuire was a six-time medallist with three silver medals in the 200m free, 50m breast and the 50m breast. She collected three bronze medals in the 8 and under class in the 100m IM, 50m fly and 100m free where she was 10 seconds better than her entry.
Lucy McLaughlin’s highlight was a bronze medal for the 200m IM, which was one of six improvements she posted, and Lucie Oxenham was close to 7 seconds faster in her 50m breaststroke sprint.
Rose Smith won a bronze for her 100m backstroke and set faster times in four other races, while Mirren Stewart beat her entry time by nearly 5 seconds in the same event. Molly Tulloch was a bronze medal winner in the 400m free where she posted a 5 second improvement.
Hannah Matchett posted big improvements in her 100m free, which was nearly 24 seconds better than her entry time and took 20 off her 400m free for a 6th place, and an 11 second PB was good enough for 8th in the 100m backstroke.
Joshua Bruce took over 11 seconds off his entry time in the 50m backstroke and was over three seconds faster in the freestyle.
Sarah Coutts posted a 23 second improvement in her 100m breaststroke and sister Abbey’s best result was a 10 second drop in the same event for 10-year-olds. Kate Convery made the top ten with a 17 second PB in the 100m freestyle for 9th place.
Hannah Adair won a bronze for her 100m fly while younger sister Charlotte took a 10th place finish in the 100m freestyle. Madison Gourlay’s highest placing came from her best PB with 6 seconds off her 100m back for 6th place.
Archie Cameron made the top ten with ninth place finishes in this 50m free and 100m breaststroke and set a PB of nearly 3 seconds in his 100m free. 9-year-old James MacPherson beat his times in the 50m freestyle and backstroke sprints.
Alistair Street was in the top ten in both his races with a 4 second improvement in his 50m freestyle and Alyvia Wears was in the top ten for her 50m backstroke and fly races.