IASC kicked off their mini league 2019 campaign in style with a round one victory.
For swimmers 11 and under, mini league is one of the most exciting competitions in the swimming calendar. 15 clubs from across the West of Scotland compete for points in three qualifying rounds. The six highest scoring teams at the end of the rounds go on to contest the final in June. Last year, the club finished in 3rd place, and hopes are high for making the final again.
The first round match saw Inverclyde drawn against Milngavie & Bearsden (M & B) and Helensburgh. Swimmers compete in age groups in both individual and relay swims. 5 points are awarded for a win, 3 points for 2nd place and 2 points for 3rd place. Fellow 2018 finalists M & B would present tough opposition, meaning every point would count.
The competition got off to a flying start with the medley relay swims where Inverclyde claimed an early lead by scooping 26 of the 30 points on offer, and 100% wins for the boys. The atmosphere was electric, but the early wins helped to settle the nerves.
In the individual swims the boys were in dominant form, dropping just 9 points from the 80 on offer. For the 9-year olds, Josh Docherty claimed victory in the backstroke and breaststroke, and Scott Brodie won in the butterfly and freestyle. For the 10-year olds, Archie McArthur won the butterfly and backstroke and Ryan Cummings took full points in the breaststroke and freestyle.
Swimming for the 8-year olds, Blake Herdman and Finlay Morrice made their mini league debuts. Blake scored a 1st, 2nd and 3rd in the butterfly, freestyle and backstroke, and Finlay came 2nd in the breaststroke. For the 11-year olds, Peter Maloney kept up the winning form, with a double victory in the butterfly and breaststroke. Boys team captain Luke Garrity won the breaststroke race and came 2nd in the freestyle.
The girls team included a large number of new swimmers across all age groups. While they might not have won as many races as the boys, the girls should take encouragement from the fast times they achieved. Some of the races were incredibly close, which bodes well for future rounds.
Swimming for the 8-year olds, Ella Morrison had a fantastic mini league debut, winning both the breaststroke and backstroke and coming 2nd in the butterfly. Nina Spirit-Hawthorne then took 2nd place for the 25m freestyle. For the 9-year olds, Isabella McClafferty claimed victory in the freestyle, Eilidh Melrose came 2nd in the breaststroke and Sophie Campbell claimed 2nd and 3rd in the butterfly and backstroke.
It was four 2nd places for the 10-year old girls team with Mirren McConnell, Eve Morrison and Skye McLellan swimming the individual races. The 11-year olds team of Alice McClafferty, Olivia McNally and girls captain Charlotte Jones, scored 2nd places in the breaststroke and backstroke and 3rd place in the butterfly and freestyle.
A score update at the end of the individual swims showed Inverclyde retaining the lead, but with only a few points separating the teams, everything came down to the final freestyle relay events. Tension was at boiling point once again, but the screams of support from the poolside – and from the families spectating – motivated another dominant display from Inverclyde, scoring 34 points out of the 40 available and securing the win.
Mini league coach Kyara Finlay had this to say about the team’s performance: “The swimmers did a fabulous job to start our mini league campaign with a strong win this year. It’s easy to underestimate the challenge of competing against a team in their home pool, but our swimmers didn’t let that bother them and stayed focused on what they have been practicing in training. This shows a competitive maturity way beyond their years for some of our youngest swimmers. Our swimmers now have a small gap before our 2nd round, so it’s important that they keep up the hard training so we can come away from the next round with an even stronger win!”
Indeed, rounds two and three are scheduled to be contested across a single weekend, putting pressure on the swimmers to be at their peak and be able to sustain it. Mini league can be exhausting – the team spirit is incredible, but racing and cheering on teammates for four hours at a time can really tire the swimmers out. The challenge will be ensuring the swimmers get enough rest and recovery after round two to let them return energised and excited for round three. With a place in the final at stake, the club is confident the young team will rise to the challenge.