Three swimmers from IASC took on the best of British age groups swimmers as they competed in the recent British Summer Championships at Tollcross in Glasgow. It was only the second time in the club’s history taking part in the highly prestigious event.
Under the guidance of Head Coach Shirley Reford the club made its British debut last year with Matthew Garrity and Aimee Watson competing in two events each. This year Aimee and Matthew were joined by Thomas Cannon, and competed in 11 events over six days.
While most youngsters have been enjoying their summer holidays and some downtime from competition, the talented trio have remained in hard training for the last month in order to be in the best shape possible. The early starts and long days presented additional challenges, and it was as much about mental preparation as physical preparation to remain focused and fresh.
The first day saw Matthew compete in the 100m breaststroke and Aimee go in the 50m breaststroke. Swimming in the heats in the morning, both qualified comfortably for their evening finals, with Aimee setting a new PB in her heat. In the finals, they both executed their races well. Matthew swam a new PB to finish 6th overall and Aimee claimed 5th place in her event.
On day two, all three swimmers were in action with Matthew and Thomas taking on the 50m breaststroke and Aimee competing in the 200m breaststroke. In Aimee’s race, she battled hard to finish 12th overall and be 2nd reserve for the evening final. Unfortunately, injury niggles in her knees flared up and she opted to withdraw and prioritise her recovery for her remaining races. Thomas swam a great race in his heat, finishing just outside his best time. It wasn’t quite enough to make the final, but it was a great debut for him at a British championship. It was an even more positive result for Matthew, who set a new PB in the heats to qualify for his second final in two days. In the evening, he went faster again, setting another PB and claiming 8th place overall.
Day three was a quieter day with just Matthew swimming in the 400m IM. Preparation for the race didn’t go as planned, and the brutal event took its toll with Matthew finishing adrift of his best time. It wasn’t the result he was hoping for, but it provided a valuable learning experience for the future.
On day four, Matthew was back in action with Thomas in the 200m breaststroke. Both swam well in their heats to earn reserve spots for the final: Matthew in 2nd reserve and Thomas in 1st reserve, just 0.09 seconds off 10th place. The club was hopeful that both would get to swim, but it wasn’t to be. This was Thomas’s last competitive swim for the club before he heads off to University next month. He was incredibly proud to be able to bow out at the highest level of competition. After the swim, mum Elaine joked “who would ever have thought the 10-year old who swam the wrong stroke in his first gala would make it all the way to the British championships?!”
On day five it was time for Aimee and Matthew to take on the 200m IM. Neither were able to get close to their best times and missed out on places in the finals. On the final day of competition Aimee was the sole representative swimming on the 100m breaststroke. She showed true grit and determination to come back from the disappointment of the 200m IM to qualify for the finals and finish 7th overall with another new PB.
Coach Shirley was with the swimmers for every session of the competition and was incredibly proud of how hard they worked and the performances they produced. She commented: “To go from making our debut last year with four swims, to having 11 this year – and several PBs – shows that everything is moving in the right direction for the club. It’s a real team effort to get swimmers to this level and the whole club celebrates their successes. But the swimmers themselves are the real heroes: they give it everything and I’m absolutely delighted at what they’ve achieved. To have three swimmers competing and making finals at the British championships is something we could only have dreamed of a few years ago.”
All four are now taking a well-earned rest with their families and recharging before the new season begins.