North Ayrshire’s fastest seniors are hoping to sign off 2018 in style at the Scottish National Short Course Championships which begin on Friday.
This year the club’s entering a team of seven swimmers (up from four in 2017) with Rory Dickson, Fraser Kelly, Evan Clark, Jennifer Murray, Rachael Grant, and Eve Mair qualifying for individual swims with Leah Stark joining them to make up a girls relay team.
It’s also an impressive showing of how well the girls’ side of the team has come on – last year’s squad was only made up of boys.
Head Coach, Jess Wilkie, who joined us at the start of the season, is looking forward to taking our swimmers to her native Edinburgh and what’s very much home turf for her at the Royal Commonwealth Pool.
“I’ve not really seen them race properly yet,” she says, “so I’m quite excited to discover whether what we’ve done so far is working or what we need to change.
“I’m really looking forward to seeing the girls relay team, we’ve done a lot of work in training and hopefully this is the line-up we’ll take forward to SNAGS next year.
“We’re competing against the big university programmes, and some strong visitors from down south, so it’s a great chance for the smaller clubs to show what they can do.”
The start lists include some of the biggest names in Scottish and British swimming including Olympic, Duncan Scott, Ross Murdoch, Aimee Willmott, Stephen Milne and Freya Anderson.
“It’s an open meet so it’s pretty difficult to qualify for,” says Jess, explaining how the three days of competition will work.
“The faster heats go in the morning, the slower heats in the afternoon and then there are A and B finals in the evening.
“None of it is age-grouped. There is a junior medallist for each event as well, but they won’t necessarily have to swim a final, it depends who’s fastest in the heats.
“It’s definitely a target meet,” she emphasises. “This’ll put the markers down for the rest of the season.
“Even though we’re looking at times we’ll still be concentrating on the technical aspects as well and test whether they can show the skills we’ve been working on in training under a little bit of pressure.
“Short course is a little more technical – you have to have decent turns and starts. We’ve done a lot of practising on using the walls and hopefully we’ll see some more spring coming off them. On Friday nights we’ve been looking at diving and hopefully they can show us what they can do."