Abby Kane set her fastest times since the Rio Paralympics as she represented North Ayrshire Swimming at the British Para-Swimming Championships in Glasgow.
The 15-year-old from Largs qualified for the finals in every event she entered at Tollcross – and achievement which was all the more impressive because as well as taking on some of the fastest para-swimmers in the world Abby was starting her Higher exams a year early!
North Ayrshire Head Coach, Jess Wilkie told us: “I was looking at this meet as preparation for next season which is the ‘big one’, it was about going racing and seeing where you’re at.
“She went pretty well all the way through the meet.”
The event doubled as a round of the para-swimming World Series and was also where British athletes were looking to set qualifying times for the World Championships in London later this year.
Abby began with the 200m IM and set a time fast enough to return for the showdown in the evening, but didn’t take up her place because straight after the heats she headed off to the Emirates Arena where special arrangements had been made for her to sit her Higher PE exam, which she has decided to get out of the way this year to avoid any potential clashes with preparations for the next Paralympics in Tokyo.
“We hadn’t had the best preparation for the 200m IM and underestimated how much having her exam that day would affect the race,” says Jess, in hindsight. “But that’s something we know now and it’s something we can put into our planning for next season if anything clashes like that.”
Friday was the 400m freestyle. “Abby looked good and strong in the heat, and we worked on the consistency of the splits for the final and it was a much better swim and dropped some more time,” says Jess, as she finished with a season’s best time and the fastest of the S13 athletes.
The highlight of Abby’s three days was always likely to be the last one where she was taking on the 100m backstroke – the event for which she won her Paralympic silver medal in 2016.
Winning a place in the fastest final she finished in 4th place (based on British Disability Points) improving on her heat with a 1:10.93, and as the fastest British S13 swimmer.
Speaking after the race Abby commented: “I’m glad I managed to improve from heats to finals and that was the goal.
“I made the process targets that I discussed with Jess - things like going into the turns fast, fast underwater- and my stroke rate was consistent, which is something I’ve worked on a lot in training. So in terms of that I’m really happy.”
“I thought she did really well in it,” observes Jess. “We’ve still got a lot of work to do going into next season and we’ll look to keep improving.
“That‘s the fastest individual time she’s done since Rio so we’re moving in the right direction. We both know that and we’re going to try to work together to put a plan which is sustainable and performance-focused.”
In a few weeks’ time Abby will be joining up with her British Swimming team mates for a training camp in Italy before competing in another round of the World Series in Berlin in June.
“It’s another brilliant opportunity to go and race para swimmers with the same classification and see where she’s sitting in the world rankings.”
Thanks to Ian MacNicol and Scottish Swimming for the use of the action shots from the championships.