Swimmers from Largs and Fairlie were in the team from the North Ayrshire Amateur Swimming Club which bagged three trips to the podium at the West District Long Course Age Group Meet, writes Rob Waller.
The big event took place in East Kilbride on 13th & 14th January and was an opportunity for youngsters to test themselves against the best in the west of Scotland.
Highlights of the weekend for the team at the Dollan Aquatics Centre were Evan Clark (15) from Stevenston, taking 2nd in the 100m breast stroke at the before Rory Dickson, (15) from Glengarnock, followed it up with second in the 400m freestyle and claiming 3rd spot in the 50m freestyle.
Head Coach Ross Douglas praised the teenagers’ performances: “I’m really happy for Evan, he’s a real worker.
"He very rarely misses a session, and to see him have his moment getting his medal was a real highlight when you see someone do what they didn’t expect to, and he achieved a couple of times for the Scottish National Age Group championships towards the end of March.”
“Off the back of the weekend performances Rory Dickson has now got himself some consideration times for British Swimming Championships which are going to be held in Edinburgh at the start of March which is an amazing achievement for him at the age of 16 to be able to compete at that level.”
14 year old Fraser Kelly from Largs narrowly missed out on joining Evan and Rory on the podium, coming 4th in the 400m freestyle, but he did have the consolation of completing the race nearly four seconds quicker than his entry time.
10 year old Isla Waller, also from Largs, was making her debut at a regional level at the meet for which just qualifying to swim was a huge achievement.
Held in the 50m pool at East Kilbride, it was a special event to give the fastest young swimmers in the west of Scotland a shot of qualifying for the British Championships and to get in they needed to have much faster personal best times than for regular West District events.
Her time of 3:08.31 for the 200m was faster than some 12 and 13 year old competitors.
“For all the young ones it’s a totally different experience,” explains Ross. “Some of the events are very different to when they are swum in a 25m short course pool, but they weren’t phased by it, they challenged themselves.”
Andrew Sutherland (14) from Fairlie competed in four races swimming freestyle, breast stroke and back stroke.
Ross commented: “For me the performance of the team as a whole was fantastic.
"Bear in mind they’ve had Christmas, they’ve had a little bit of down time, and had to come straight back into a racing mentality.
“For me it’s important when the older ones move on to university we have the new wave coming through so it’s exciting and really, really positive.
"It’s only going to get better.”
For more details about North Ayrshire Amateur Swimming Club, go to their website at www.naasc.co.uk/