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There was no sign of the North Ayrshire swimmers easing off the gas in their last races of 2019.

SAST Open Santa Hats

This year the coaching team decided to make the South Ayrshire Open the final meet of the year, after two seasons travelling to Glenrothes for the Warrender club’s pre-Christmas meet, and the move paid off with 10 medals and a 60% PB rate.

“For the juniors it was our focus meet after the first serious block of training,” says Junior Coach, Alan Dickson.

“We had 13 swimmers from silver and gold and 11 seniors which was impressive given the number of scratches for the over-subscribed meet and the withdrawals with winter ailments.”

“Many of the kids had sore throats and coughs which made the return of 65 PBs from 108 swims all the more impressive.”

The event at the Citadel included 50m sprints which gave some of the younger swimmers an opportunity to experience qualifying and then racing in finals, with the aim of going faster still at the second attempt.

SAST Open Emma Binnie10-year-old Emma Binnie reached the finals in all four strokes and improved in three of them, landing her a medal of each colour. She took nearly 1.3 seconds off her 50m breaststroke time to claim the gold and was over 1 and a half seconds quicker on her way to silver in the fly, having started her day with a similar PB in the backstroke which was good enough for bronze.

“We had six swimmers reaching twelve finals and most of them had to PB to get there,” says Alan. “9 of them managed to improve on their time in their second race.”

“Sam Currie made two finals and was faster both times which was really good to see.”

The 9-year-old was one of three swimmers who achieved a clean sweep of PBs, taking over 5 seconds off his 50m fly, and shaving more than 2 seconds off his backstroke. Sam’s highest placing was 5th in the freestyle with a half second PB.

Elder brother Adam took nearly 4 seconds off his 100m freestyle and also PB’d his 50m backstroke, 50m fly and 100m breaststroke.

Fraser Cowie took nearly 16 seconds off his 200m breaststroke, placing 5th with a time of 3:23.55 and took nearly 9 seconds off his 200m backstroke for a top ten finish. He was almost 4 seconds faster in the 200m freestyle as well.

Daniel Convery’s reward for taking on the challenge of the 200m fly for the first time was a bronze medal and a benchmark of 3:28.06 to aim at next time.

SAST Open Lily Murray Heather StuartHeather Stuart left the Citadel with our biggest collection of medals from the weekend.

“She swam really well making three finals and going faster twice,” comments Alan.

The 12-year-old took gold in the 200m fly, taking more than 10 seconds off her time. Her 3 other bronze medals came in the 100m fly, 50m fly and the 50m free, setting a new PB in two of those races.

Caelin Chan had three top ten finishes, taking nearly 6 seconds off her 200m breaststroke and slicing 2 seconds off the freestyle. She also PB’d the 100m breaststroke race.

Younger sister, Evie, placed in the top ten in her four 50m races with a best placing of 4th in the fly and three new PBs.

9-year-old Lewis Bray found a 17 second improvement in his 200m breaststroke and made the 50m backstroke final, finishing in 6th place.

Kate Stuart was just pipped to the victory a very close-fought 50m backstroke, with some of the team on poolside believing she got the touch on her rival.

Elder brother, James, bagged an 8 second PB in his 100m fly and posted a 1.4 second improvement in his breaststroke sprint.

Lily Murray won a bronze medal for her 200m fly and took a healthy 6 second bite out of her PB for the 200m freestyle, and more than 5 seconds off her 100m breaststroke best.

SAST Open girlsSophie Steele found a 2.5 second gain in the 50m breaststroke and achieved top ten placings in her 100m fly, 100m free, and 100m and 200m backstroke races.

Isla Waller was delighted with a near 3 and a half second PB in her 200m freestyle, having doing a lot of work with the coaches to finesse her stroke in training, and grabbed another PB, and 5th place, in the 100m race, and was top 5 in the 100m fly.

Niamh Hamilton set PBs in both her races, taking more than a second off her 50m breaststroke and 100m free.

The honour of biggest PB of the day was claimed by Beth Hill who took 44 seconds off her 200m fly for an 8th place finish in the 13/14 age group.

Holly Hopkins posted improvements in her 200m breaststroke and 50m freestyle.

Rachel McGuire finished in the top nine in all her events where she was competing against 14-year-olds, taking 6th place in the 100m fly.

The Moore sisters were on another of their flying visits across the Irish Sea. In her last days as a 12-year-old, Eilidh found improvements in her 50m and 100m backstroke and 50m freestyle.

SAST Open boysErin set four new PBs, taking half a second off her 50m and 100m backstroke.

Emily McGuire raced in the 4 50m events and took 1.3 seconds off her fly for 9th place and half a second off her backstroke.

Ruby McInnes had an identical programme and PB’d in the same events, grabbing 7th spot in the fly and 9th in the backstroke.

Jamie Saunderson only had one swim but made it count with a 1.3 second PB in his 100m freestyle.

Matthew Shanks set improvements in his 50m and 200m backstroke races, and Leah Stark made the top 10 in all her events, finishing 6th in the 100m freestyle.

“I hope we can use this as a springboard going into a busy January”, says Alan Dickson as he looks ahead to training resuming in earnest in the New Year. “We’re well represented in the schools and we’ve got Renfrew Baths and the first West District meet of the year coming up.”