Almost a year to the day after the start of the first lockdown the club came together – virtually - to celebrate a remarkable twelve months of resilience and crown the champions of 2020.
In a year like no other the both the format of the presentation night and the way the award winners were chosen was new.
In previous seasons the age group winners were decided over two rounds of Club Championship meets – for sprint and distance events.
Galas were out of the question when the pandemic arrived in Scotland in March 2020, but by late autumn North Ayrshire was among the first clubs to find a way to hold Covid-safe time trials, and during our training sessions in December most of the swimmers in Silver, Gold, Youth and National were able to complete head-to-head in a handful of sprint races to decide the age group champions.
Regrettably, it was not practicable to arrange time trials for the Development Squad, because there is too wide a spread in age and ability to run a quick-fire event with all the necessary Covid protocols.
Our Masters also missed out on the chance to compete, having been out of the water since the ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown in October, followed by the Level 3 restrictions which prevented adult group activities indoors.
The coach’s awards were decided on by all our paid and volunteer coaches, and took account only how the swimmers performed in the pool, but also their attitude and commitment to our land and online training sessions during the long months out of the water.
Here, then, is a run down of the winners, and what their coaches Alan Dickson, Sheena Currie and Helen Ternent had to say about them.
Age Group Champions
Evie Chan and Sam Currie
Evie made solid progress whenever she had the chance to get in a pool this year.
Always focussed and determined she has asked as many questions of me as a coach as she has of herself.
Well done Evie.
If there was an award for the best smile in the club Sam would win it hands down!
After returning from a nasty knee injury at the end of 2019 he worked hard to get back to fitness putting a great shift at our one and only Mini League tie.
His competitive drive saw him at or near the top of the WD speed ladders for a number of events.
Well done Sam!
Emma Binnie and Kouper Sloss
The drive and commitment shown by Emma is impressive and stands comparison to anyone else in the club.
This year her all round athletic ability has stood her in good stead, given all our time out the water.
Some of her cycles and runs on Strava are almost impressive as her efforts in the pool! Congratulations Emma.
Kouper stepped up to Gold Squad last year and has taken a bit of time to find his feet.
This year however his progress has been impressive, and he was in his element at our improvised club championships.
Whilst technically he continues to develop, there is no shortage of go when it comes to race time. I can’t wait until it all clicks as there is definitely more to come.
Keep it up, Kouper!
Caelin Chan and Lewis Gibson
In Caelin we have an individual who is quiet, hard working but fiercely competitive.
She swam best times in all her events during the club champs, a remarkable achievement given how disrupted our training was this year.
She has recently stepped up to Youth Squad and looks right at home.
I have no doubt she will continue to feature in Club Champs as she goes up the age groups. Super work Caelin.
Lewis blasted back to training, pushing himself and everyone around him.
In fact , if anything I would like to see him slow down a bit at training and focus on technique.
In competition he is relentless and our Club Champs certainly brought out his competitive instinct.
The destination of the boys’ shield was never in doubt.
Ella Bruce and James Stuart
Ella’s more focussed approach in the pool has paid dividends.
I have never had any doubt about her skills, but this year she has applied herself much better, sticking in especially at the tough sessions and that has made all the difference.
She produced some great swims given her limited training and some nice personal bests.
Well done Ella.
James is another swimmer with a notable change of attitude.
This was one of those situations when as a coach I could almost see a young person maturing before my eyes.
A much more mature approach has led to him getting his head down and working hard, and those efforts saw James taking the title.
Heather Stuart and Adam Currie
Heather was prominent throughout first lockdown.
Her engagement was great at land and virtual sessions and she was one of a group who kept water fit by swimming at some local beauty spots such as Booker Pond and Kilbirnie Loch.
That level of hard work continued on our return to the pool and Heather thoroughly deserves to take this age group.
Adam is one of our hardest working swimmers.
He is totally focussed at every session, pushing himself hard trying to compete with the older boys around him.
I have seen a new maturity in this young man he is keen to learn taking on advice and seeking feedback.
This will stand him in good stead as he continues to develop.
He swam a scatter of best times at the club champs and was agonisingly close to going under 60s for 100 free, missing out by .05 of a second.
I am sure it will be achieved soon after our next return, well done Adam.
Holly Hopkins and Matthew Shanks
Holly got on quietly with her training this year, participating at almost every virtual session and being a regular at land.
That consistency was maintained on our return to the pool where she just gets on with it.
Her low-key approach hides a fierce competitive instinct, which came to the fore at race times.
Her performance at the time trials was all the more impressive as she was one of a group of our swimmers who reside in East Ayrshire, and had to put up with extended lockdown restrictions that prevented them crossing the boundary to train.
I have been so impressed by how hard Matthew has worked since his return to the pool.
He had been swimming well on the run up to lockdown one, making big strides in a number of events.
He returned as if he had never been away, training to a consistently high standard and making the most of every session.
I was still surprised to see that at the first competitive opportunity he was able to reduce his previous best times even further.
Jen Murray and Harry Hume
Jen is our hardest working swimmer and has an amazing internal motivation.
During the first lockdown she asked lots of questions of me on how to build running, cycling stretching and strength work into her programme.
She was an absolute pleasure to coach on her return, where we have been focussing on one or two specific areas.
She is an example to all our younger swimmers.
2020 saw Harry come into his own.
He has pushed hard at every session, focussing on taking instruction and listened to advice.
He has been an example to the younger swimmers and it is clear to me he has been enjoying sessions much more.
This was reflected in his performance at our club champs. Like Jen, he has secured a number of unconditional offers for places at university and I am so pleased to present this to him.
Shane Robinson and Carla Young
The coaches award for development boy goes to a swimmer who has shown fantastic consistency and determination this year.
A while ago Shane asked what he needed to do to secure a move up to Silver Squad, he was given some advice which he followed to the letter.
Last year he was selected to swim at the special Olympics, which was a fantastic achievement and would have been a great experience for him, sadly they were cancelled.
Since our return in September all the coaches have been impressed by his progress and he has just moved up to Silver squad.
Well done Shane.
Carla’s move to Silver was achieved following a year of hard work and great attendance.
She is a great listener focussing on her technique and applying her coaches advice.
She is a pleasure to coach and I am sure she will fit right in with silver squad where her development will continue.
Cameron Hamill and Molly Tulloch
Cameron has just moved up a squad.
He has been a regular at the club for a while now, but all the coaches have seen a real change in him this year, especially during our time in the pool.
He has been pushing himself and those around him hard and his progression has been amazing.
He is also a regular at our virtual land sessions where he has been nothing short of a revelation pushing his dad hard every Saturday morning.
It’s a big well done to Cameron.
Molly has come on leaps and bounds this year and the foundation for that progress was laid during our summer land sessions.
Not only was her engagement excellent, but she worked hard at every session and was at the front consistently.
That hard work continued on our return to the water where she swam well at our club championships.
I cannot wait to get her back in the pool for an extended period to see where her work ethic takes her.
Robbie Gray and Isla Waller
This award for senior boy was unanimous among the coaching group.
Robbie has really matured this year and been a real pleasure to coach ,whether that was during the land or virtual sessions or in the pool.
His engagement has been fantastic, a real example of what being a member of a club is all about.
His open water swimming during first lockdown kept him in a great place and he has come with a best time at every opportunity.
I think I have even seen a competitive streak in him this year.
Isla led by example throughout the year, eve-present at our land and virtual sessions during the summer and giving 100% at every pool session.
She has supported the club all the way and was the only choice for this award.
There has been a real change in attitude in the pool, she has started to focus on getting the processes right and looking for the lessons in every swim.
I am sure that attitude will see her make progress once we are able to get back to the pool. I cannot wait.
Swimmer – Hannah McMillan
Land Trainer – Kerry Ternent
Hannah is a real power house, full of energy and does everything at speed.
She is delightful to work with and is happy to help and demonstrate to others and very supporting of her team.
Hanna won our first to get changed competition and is a worthy winner of our swimmer of the year.
Kerry has shown great team spirit in land training during the pandemic.
She has been supportive and a source of motivation for the synchro squad.
She assisted with the set up of outdoor training and is happy to help and encourage her team. T
The coaches were in full agreement to name Kerry as winner of the land training cup for 2020.
Zoe Matchett and Sophie Steele
All the swimmers have shown great resilience this year spending so much time out of the water and concentrating on land based exercises.
Zoe developed and improved with every session and is a very deserving winner.
Sophie always impresses me with her enthusiasm and puts in 100% effort regardless of what the exercise is.