North Ayrshire’s youngest swimmers took it to the next level at the weekend, testing themselves at the Ren 96 Graded Meet.
We fielded a team of 35 swimmers, with the majority from the Development and Silver squads for two days of competition at the On-X in Linwood.
“I wanted to target the younger side of the juniors,” says their coach, Alan Dickson.
“For a lot of them it was their first time at a level 2 meet, where the reasons for disqualification are many and varied, and I wanted to use it as a real learning opportunity, and I think they responded very well to that.
“The 11 kids from Development had 27 swims between them, and 19 of those were PBs, plus we only had 3 DQs which was really pleasing.”
Jasmine Baird collected her first gold medal of her swimming career with a win in the 50m backstroke, on her way to a clean sweep of six PBs across the weekend.
Her biggest improvement was in the 100m breaststroke where she took off 8 seconds on her way to a fourth-place finish and collected bronze medals in the 100m IM and 50m free.
Among those also going home with a PB in every race they entered were Stephen Blane, Lauren Peckover, Rebecca Shanks, Rose Smith, Cameron Gibson, Kerr Hill, Ruby McInnes, Molly Tulloch and Samuel Young, Lewis Bray and Kate Stuart.
“Lewis really attacked his breaststroke,” says Alan, who also saw the 9-year-old take nearly 15 seconds off his 100m freestyle.
“Some of them are much more comfortable swimming these events now and I would like to see a bit more attack from some of them. They can swim the strokes correctly and execute the skills around the walls and what we need to see is a bit more go.”
Kate collected three podium medals with a gold in the 100m freestyle, with a 3.8 second PB, as well as silver in the 100m backstroke and bronze for the 50m free.
Says Alan: “Kate swam really well all weekend, and I’ve got to make a special mention to her brother, James. He ended up with a really crowded schedule on the Saturday and coped with it really well, and he still came along to training on Sunday night as well.”
The 12-year old’s reward was a silver medal in the 100m fly.
8-year-old Mairead Anderson and Lacey Rodgers, who’s 10, impressed Alan with their response to a major kit malfunction. “They both had a disaster at the start with their goggles falling off,” he explains. “But it but it was great to see the way carried on regardless and finished their races.
“Then Lacey came back in the next session and swam the 100m free with a 9 sec PB which showed great resilience.
“I know she was nervous going into that, but it didn’t show.”
Jude Friels got into the medals with a second place in the 100m breaststroke, with a 5 second PB, while Angus Wark claimed one of the prestigious ‘swam too fast’ rosettes for his 50m fly to go with a silver medal for the 100m IM and bronze in 100m fly.
Emma Binnie rounded off the first day’s action in the best possible way with a gold medal in the 50m fly, while twin brother Dean took 10 seconds off his 100m free and sliced 9 seconds off his backstroke over the same distance.
Many of the swimmers took huge chunks out of their times, including Niamh Hamilton taking between 12 and 13 seconds off her 100m times in breaststroke, backstroke and freestyle, while Cameron Hamill set a 9 second PB in the 100m free.
Anna Hay took a huge 9 seconds off her 50m fly, and Hannah Matchett found more than 11 seconds in her 100m breaststroke while elder sister, Zoe, bettered her 50m fly by over 6 and a half seconds.
Other celebrating siblings were Kirsty Mathie who PB’d both her races, with a 5 second improvement in the 50m free while elder brother Fraser posted 3 new improvements, his best being 2 seconds off his 50m breaststroke.
Ruby McInnes found over 2 seconds in her 100m IM while Erin Patten was over five seconds faster in her 100m breaststroke.
Chloe Peckover posted improvements in her 50m backstroke and the freestyle, where she was three and a half seconds faster.
Jamie Saunderson smashed his 50m fly time, taking nearly 8 seconds off on his way to four new PBS in the short sprint races, while younger brother Kyle took a huge 14 seconds off his 100m freestyle.
Kouper Sloss improved his 100m IM benchmark by 9 seconds, and Mirren Stewart as over 2 seconds faster in her 50m freestyle.
“Big thanks to Ren 96 and all their volunteers for hosting the meet which was very slick and well organised,” says Alan.
“I’m really looking forward to going back to Linwood for the Ren 96 Junior Meet. It’s always another opportunity for them to perform again and the City of Glasgow Long Course graded meet with the Gold squad.”