Our swimmers showed just how much improvement they’ve made in the last year by setting some gigantic PBs at our annual 200 Meet at the Portal.
This year’s gala was massively over-subscribed, due in part to its position in the swimming calendar in the qualifying period for the Scottish National Age Group Championships in April, and because it affords an opportunity to swim distance events.
A great turn out from volunteer officials helped ensure all four sessions are likely to be accredited, meaning the times will count for entry national competitions, which is excellent for the club’s reputation given that swimmers had travelled from as far as Liverpool and the Isle of Man to compete.
“Overall as a club we put in a fantastic performance finishing in the top three on club points which is great to see,” says Head Coach, Jess Wilkie.
“It was good to see the kids putting into the practice the technical aspects we’ve been working on in training, such as underwaters and breakouts, and I’m hoping they’ll carry on using those in their racing as much as possible, and continue to improve.
“We’ve got a variety of challenges when it comes to turns, though, and I’m hoping that’s something which can be addressed to help them chip away at their times.”
Junior Coach, Alan Dickson, echoes those comments: “There were a number of tough conversations after the events when we started to focus on the process – what had been done right and wrong during the swim – and there were a number of Gold swimmers who been given learning points in their early swims and went on to rectify things which was a highlight for me.
33 home swimmers entered the meet. “You only have to look at the result sheet to see there were some superb swims,” says Alan.
“There were bucket loads of PBs including 4 new SNAGS times.”
“200m races are very testing and require both endurance and speed. For me it’s the agony written on the faces of the swimmers in the third 50m which shows how hard they’re trying and provides all the drama.
“For many of them it was their first chance to swim the events in race conditions for a year and when you go back over twelve months, or even years, you can see clear progression.”
The Murray sisters dominated the punishing 200m fly in their age groups – Lily winning the 13-year-old’s gold and Jen in the 15/16 age group. Both set new PBs in those races and Jen took silver in the 200m free.
Lily deservedly won the cup for the best 13-year- old fly swimmer when the trophies were handed out at the end of the meet.
Heather Stuart took 11 seconds off her 200m free for a fourth place, but her silver and bronze medals came in the backstroke and IM races.
Similarly, Sophie Steele sliced 8 seconds off her 200m free and collected a bronze for the IM for 12-year-olds.
The Chans added to their collections with Evie winning a silver and bronze in 200m backstroke and breaststroke – with an 18 second improvement in the latter – while Caelin also took bronze for that event for 11-year olds and PB’d every one of her races.
10-year-old Cameron Gibson was among our 13 medal winners, taking a bronze in the 200m breaststroke, almost a minute faster than his previous time.
It was a family celebration with elder brother, Lewis, taking two silvers and a bronze, with a 13 second PB in his 400m freestyle for second place and 10 seconds off his 200m breaststroke.
Rachel McGuire took a silver in the 200m free with a 1 second improvement.
Home advantage doesn’t mean as much in swimming as it does in other sports – water’s water - but what you get is first call on spare lanes on the day.
Emma Binnie made it count with two big PBs when she got the call up on Sunday, taking 37 seconds off her 200m breaststroke and 13 seconds off her 200m backstroke.
Adam Currie dropped below 10 minutes for the first time in the 800m - setting 9:54.37 - which was a 37 second PB. In the 200m events he grabbed gold in the freestyle and backstroke, with PBs of around 5 seconds, and a silver in the IM.
Aaynaan Patankar got the chance to race a 200m backstroke and set a new best time of 3:33.11, while Jamie Saunderson was nearly 11 seconds quicker in the 400m free and took over 13 seconds off his record in the 200m race.
Kate Stuart used her chance in the 400m free to set a 9 second PB and followed that up with 12 seconds off her 200m breaststroke. Elder brother James set new best times in his 200m freestyle and backstroke, being over 5 seconds faster each time.
Fraser Cowie grabbed another monster PB, completing the 400m IM nearly 54 seconds faster than the last time he swam it competitively, and a 22 second improvement secured gold in the 200m fly while his silver in 200m IM was a 13 second PB.
Maison Gourlay took 4th place in her first go at the 200m breaststroke and Ella Bruce found more than 2 and a half seconds in her 400m free.
Daniel Convery was 14 seconds faster in the 200m free and finished in the top 7 in all his races, and Isla Waller took nearly 9 seconds off her 400m free and was in the top 10 in all her other events including a 3 second PB in 200m backstroke.
“Matthew Shanks had a brutal schedule on the Sunday morning with the 1500m free and the 200m fly for the first time, and he had a really mature attitude to treat it as a training opportunity and gave his all,” says Alan.
Among the other big improvers were 14-year-old Nathan Hughes who lodged a 22 second improvement in the 400m free.
“Nathan had been unwell in the run up to Christmas and was back on good form,” says Alan. “He attacked everything and really went for it.”
Andrew Sutherland made the podium both times he swam, taking the gold medal in a thrilling tactical battle in the 200m freestyle having secured silver in the 200m IM on Saturday afternoon.
Robbie Gray beat his400m best by 37 seconds, took 10 seconds off his 200m time and improved in the backstroke and IM.
Another 14-year-old, Scott Kean, was 18 seconds quicker in his 400m IM and found 11 seconds in the 200m breaststroke and backstroke.
Cameron McDonald was a whisker under half a minute faster in ultimate all-round test of the 400m IM and Niamh Hamilton PB’d all three of her races, with top 10 results. Her biggest improvement was 9 seconds off the 200m breaststroke.
Holly Hopkins improved by more than 3 seconds in both her events, with a sixth place in the 200m breaststroke while Beth Hill took three and a half seconds off her 200m fly and shaved nearly 2 seconds from her 400m free.
Harry Hume matched his best in the 200m IM and took 8th place and Lauren Peckover was on her time in the 200m breaststroke.
PB’s aren’t the only measure of how well they swam, as Alan recently explained in his Comparison Trip feature, but Jess was delighted to see a number of swimmers positing times which will give them good chance of racing at SNAGS in Aberdeen in a few weeks’ time.
“The National meet is definitely something the kids see as their target and there are a couple more chances for them to get themselves on the start sheet,” she says.
“It was good to see some of the younger swimmers matching last year’s qualifying times for DRP and I’m looking forward to seeing them coming through.”
It as a recording breaking weekend for the rising star of Scottish swimming, City of Glasgow’s Katie Shanahan.
The 15-year-old set a new Scottish age group short course record for the 1500m, completing the distance in 17:01.41 on the Saturday morning.
She followed that up by breaking two of the 200 Meet records set by the great Hannah Miley.
She smashed the 200m freestyle time nearly 2 and a half seconds, bringing it down to 2:02.51 and then obliterated Hannah’s backstroke from 2006, bringing it down from 2:22.36 to 2:09.99.
Her teammate Robert Burgess also broke the meet record for the 14-year-old boy 200m breaststroke, and both were awarded the cups for Overall Meet Champions.
Finishing up her last home meet as Head Coach, Jess reflects: “As a team we worked really well, and it was good to see everyone on poolside cheering on their teammates.
“Also I’ve got to say a big thank you to all our volunteers – including the officials and timing workers, those who set up and take down the equipment, the team on the front door and keeping us all fed!”