Some of the club’s youngest swimmers got their first chance at competing in the same pool as their Olympic heroes as they took on the challenge of the City of Glasgow Long Course Graded Meet.
North Ayrshire collected 9 medals over the weekend with nearly half our team of 37 getting their first taste of swimming in a 50m pool.
“It was a really competitive meet and a great testament to the kids who managed to get onto the podium given the numbers which were there,” says Junior Coach, Alan Dickson.
“To put it into context, there were 30 heats of the girls 50m free alone, which in a 10-lane pool works out as 300 swimmers!”
Among those making their Tollcross debuts were three 8-year-olds – Sam Currie, Emily McGuire and Ruby McInnes – along with Kouper Sloss, who’s 9, as well as Dean Binnie, Molly Tulloch and Niamh Hamilton who are 10.
Others setting their first long course times at the meet included Rhys Hanlonbole, Fraser Mathie, Lauren Peckover, Jamie Saunderson, Rebecca Shanks and Molly Sutherland.
Caelin Chan collected two gold medals, setting a 6 second PB on her way to winning the 50m breaststroke for 10-year-olds, and then adding the 100m title.
“Caelin put in two really good swims and looked strong. I’m really pleased with how she’s training right now,” says Alan.
15-year-old Andrew Sutherland is a Tollcross veteran, having swum there just the week before as part of our boys relay teams at SNAGS.
He made three visits to the podium, climbing a step each time, beginning with a bronze in the 200m IM (with an 8 second PB) followed by silver in the 50m backstroke and rounding off with a gold in the 100m free.
SNAGS team mate, Harry Hume, took 6 seconds off his 100m fly best to grab a bronze medal while fellow Irvinite, Adam Currie, claimed a second place in the 100m backstroke for 12-year-olds.
Eve Mair, who’d also been at the Nationals, took a bronze in the 50m breast.
Kate Stuart grabbed a bronze in the 50m backstroke and finished 4th in the 100m free.
“A highlight for me was the skills which the swimmers were showing,” comments Alan. “We’ve spent a lot of time with the Juniors on their underwaters.
“Evie Chan’s pull-outs in the breaststroke were fantastic and Lucy Glencorse went the furthest I think I’ve ever seen from somebody in a breaststroke from a dive.
“Charlize Wears has only recently joined North Ayrshire and she’s already taken onboard what we’re trying to achieve and her underwaters in her 50m fly were fantastic, she managed around 15m (which is the maximum allowed) and I was really pleased.”
A lot of our swimmers who’ve raced long course before took huge slices off their PBs, with Emma Binnie, Evie Chan, Robbie Gray and Nathan Hughes taking around 15 seconds off (in 100m breast, 100m free, 200m free and 100m back, respectively.)
Ella Bruce and James Stuart were also into double figures with Ella chopping 13 seconds from her 100m free and James 12 seconds off his 100m breaststroke.
Lewis Gibson, Cameron McDonald and Heather Stuart were in the 8 second club with their 200m free, 100m breast and 50m fly times.
This meet was unusual in having such a wide age range on the team – from 8 to 16 – and also because while some of them already have a long course track record, others have nothing to compare against, which can often cause confusion with conversion times, according to Alan.
“I had a number of swimmers who thought they were disappointed because they hadn’t beaten their time on the sheet,” he says.
“If you take it at face value it doesn’t mean anything, and we had swimmers getting upset because they hadn’t beaten a conversion time.
“My advice to them is that if they’re going to spend time studying the entries then they also need to know where that time came from.
“I had one parent who asked if you have long course time and a short course time, which is your PB? The answer is that they are two completely separate things. Swimming long course is almost a completely different sport, especially for races like the 200m and 400m IM.
“If they haven’t already, I’d urge them to read the ‘Long and Short of It’ article here on the website which goes into a lot more detail on this subject.
There were lots of positives to take away from the weekend, he says:
“I was really impressed with everybody remembering their pre-pool and getting into the habit of using the swim-down pool.
“It was heartening to see swimmers following through on the race plans. Ruby McInnes swam 100m free long course for the first time and did exactly what we’d discussed about her breathing patterns.”
“I’ve got to say a big thanks to Billy Binnie for his work as the team manager handling around 37 swimmers over the weekend, and to Jo and Kelly who volunteered to help with the coaching. And Rachel McGuire, who came along on Sunday afternoon, was a big help and was leading pre-pool.”