Largs swimmer Isla Waller came away with two silver medals in a gritty display of determination at the West District Junior Age Group Championships in Glasgow.
The 11-year-old Largs Primary pupil was competing with the North Ayrshire Swimming team at Tollcross despite returning from a school residential trip to Ardentinny with a hacking cough and hardly any voice at all.
She set to the tone for the weekend by coming second in the 800m freestyle, 34 seconds quicker than her entry time, but it was the resilience she showed in the afternoon session which most impressed Junior Coach, Alan Dickson.
“Isla making the 200m Individual Medley final was a little bit unexpected,” he recalls. “That meant after finishing that race she had to go straight back into the water for a 500m ‘swim down’ ahead of her 100m fly final.
“So I was really pleased to see her improve on her time from the heat with a really gutsy swim to take her second silver medal of the day.”
Isla also made the final of the 100m breaststroke, claiming another PB, and just missed out on two medals on the Sunday when she defied the seedings with 4th places in the 200m breaststroke and in the 400m freestyle, where she was 18 seconds ahead of her entry time.
“Although it’s still early in the season there was some hard racing and it was good to see many of the kids getting into finals,” says Alan.
“I was really pleased with how many of those finalists managed to improve their times again which is down to the process: making sure they’re in the frame of mind to swim a final, that they swim down after finishing their heat and warm up again before the race.
Another Largs swimmer, 11 year-old Daniel Convery, was competing at the meet and took 6 seconds off his 100m backstroke
Head Coach, Jess Wilkie, was on poolside for the Sunday. “It was good to spend some time with the swimmers and talk through their race strategies and see if they could execute them,” she enthuses.
“We tried to give the swimmers constructive feedback based on what they thought about their races and how they felt during their swims - identifying the aspects they thought they’d done well or not - and trying to get them to come up with solutions and how to fix it.
“It’s about facilitating their thought processes, rather than just giving them all the information, and getting them thinking a little bit more.”
“It was reassuring to see that on points we’re competitive within the West District even though we only had a small number of swimmers compared to many of the other teams.”
The focus of the training in the next few weeks will be on preparing the swimmers to peak for the pre-Christmas meet at Warrender, in Glenrothes and then in the early weeks of 2019 they’ll be heading back to Tollcross for the West District Long Course Championships.
Picture: North Ayrshire medallists Rachel McGuire (L) and Isla Waller (R)