Largs Academy has a new national champion after Fraser Kelly raced to gold and silver medals at the Scottish Schools Swimming finals.
He took victory in the 100m fly for 15- and 16-year olds, breaking the 1-minute barrier and setting a new personal best of 59:90 at the Tollcross International Swimming Centre in Glasgow.
Fraser followed that up by lowering his time in the 200m race – arguably the most punishing event in swimming – to take his second medal of the day.
He told us: “In getting the gold medal I achieved a goal I’d set to get under the minute, and I was very happy to see that my work in training had paid off.”
At this event the swimmers are representing their own schools, but such is the standard of competition, with only the fastest 20 getting through to the finals, that all the local representatives were athletes who train with the North Ayrshire Swimming Club.
Jess Wilkie, the head coach, who was mentoring them on poolside, says Fraser was close to taking home two gold medals.
“He went out really strong in the first 100m,” she says, “and he tried to hold on but got beaten at the end.”
Fraser was one of four swimmers from Largs and Fairlie who made it to the prestigious event, and one of them, Isla Waller, was the only primary school pupil in North Ayrshire to qualify for the national finals.
The 11-year-old Largs Primary student had a choice of events she could enter after the Ayrshire qualifying round, but the rules dictated she could choose only one, and she selected the 50m fly.
After setting a new PB to qualify for the final in 10th place she went faster again in the decider, lowering her time to a 35.15 for the sprint event, and moving up to 9th place in the standings.
Isla told us: “I felt I did well because it was my first ever national final. I was quite excited but also nervous.
“I’m not a sprinter and I don’t normally do 50m fly so it was quite different, I liked the change. You’re just shooting up the pool as fast as you can whereas in a 100m or 200m race you have to think tactically and save some energy for the last length where you go all-out.
“My start could have been a bit faster, and the first two strokes, but I was pleased I went the furthest underwater after the dive from the blocks in both the heat and the final.
“I just wanted to try my hardest in the final, stay calm and do what I needed to do – good underwater, fast arms and strong kick.
Coach, Jess Wilkie, was delighted with her swims saying: “It was great to see Isla progressing from heat to final, that’s something we’re looking for across the board.”
Jacob Tarran, from Fairlie, put in a brilliant performance racing in the same 100m fly event as Fraser, taking 7 seconds off his PB, from 1:20 down to 1:13.
Another Fairlie swimmer, Andrew Sutherland, made up the Largs Academy trio with gutsy performances in the 100m and 200m freestyle, as Jess explains.
“Andrew was off with the flu in the build-up, so we were just concentrating on getting back into training and get the focus back.”
Summing up the event, Jess was delighted by the performances put in by the 12 swimmers from the North Ayrshire club
“We did really well,” she says. “We got PBs we weren’t expecting at this point in the season. We’re still in pretty hard training at the moment and everyone’s looking really good and on-track to swim fast at the Scottish National Age Group championships over the Easter holidays.

Photos: Marc Turner/Gary Thomson