IASC swimmers Aimee Watson and Matthew Garrity were part of the Scotland West swimming team which came second in the recent National County Team Championships just behind Yorkshire – the best ever result by a Scottish team.
The National County Team Championships is a UK wide event for regional swimming teams. This year’s event was held in Sheffield on October 7th with 36 counties and more than 900 swimmers taking part. The Scotland West team, which is made up of swimmers from clubs as far afield as Oban and Stranraer, were predicted to finish in 11th place with 332 points. But our coaches and swimmers had other ideas, racking up 431 points and 16 top 10 finishes to secure that second place.
Hopes were high for a good performance from Aimee and Matthew in the 100m breaststroke, but few were expecting the massive personal bests they achieved. At just 14 years old, both are at the younger end of the 14/15 age group that they are eligible to swim in. Just being selected over older swimmers was a great achievement, and a testament to how talented they are. Aimee finished 4th in her event in a time of 1.11.86 – a massive 4.21 seconds off her previous best. Matthew swam in a time of 1.06.69 to finish 6th with an equally impressive 2.84 seconds off his PB. Aimee also swam the 50m breaststroke for the 14/15 girls medley, securing another 4th place.
Our Head Coach Shirley Redford was part of the coaching team for the competition. She said, “The atmosphere poolside was electric and I felt privileged to be part of the Scotland West team. The team ethos and spirit were superb throughout the whole competition. I was especially proud to see our two IASC swimmers showcasing their talent alongside the best young swimmers in Great Britain. They both rose to the occasion and produced amazing performances and great personal bests.”
Their selection for the Scotland West team came off the back of months of successes from the pair. Both became Scottish National Age Group champions in March. Aimee won gold in the 50m breaststroke and Matthew in the 200m breaststroke. Both then went on to win silver in their 100m breaststroke events. And just a few months later, both competed in the British championships. Aimee came 5th in her age group for the 50m breaststroke and Matthew came 6th in the 100m breaststroke.
So just what is it about Aimee and Matthew that makes them such an exciting prospect for Scottish swimming? Shirley puts their success down to a mix of natural talent and a lot of hard work and dedication. She said, “Swimmers at the top level of our club train 7 days a week, often twice a day, balancing swimming with gym work. We try to make the training as varied as possible to keep the swimmers motivated and challenge their fitness. But to be a top swimmer, there’s just no getting away from those early morning training sessions. Several mornings a week, our swimmers are training hard while most people are still fast asleep! Talent will only get you so far – it’s the commitment to training that really turns potential into success.”
Since returning from Sheffield, there hasn’t been much time for Shirley and the dynamic duo to celebrate their success. All three are preparing to fly out to Lanzarote for the club’s annual training camp at the fabulous La Santa resort. I’m sure they all feel like they’ve earned a holiday, but if Shirley has her way, rest is the last thing they’ll be getting!