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The first gala of the season saw over twenty Cupar swimmers racing over the weekend at Carnegie Leisure Centre, Dunfermline. In total we scooped twelve medals across the two-days, with 10-yr-old Charlotte Williamson accounting for five of them (and she only swam one-day!!). Swimmers raced in a total of 87 swims, with personal best times gained in 69 of them, with the two biggest improvements coming from Millie Buchan and Ellen McQuilton.  Peruse the results and you’ll see that several swimmers achieved PB’s in all of their swims. Catriona Cleary is back on last season’s PB drive, with seven from seven this weekend. She’d better watch out for Eve Hewitt though as she too managed a similar feat in her first major gala outing and justified her imminent move to Silver Squad.

Charlotte not only picked up five medals, but set PB’s in all of the races she raced in. Just reward for the application she has shown at training. Her 50m Backstroke was the highlight for me with prodigious power and speed achieved through great technique. Eve was on top form showing excellent diving technique throughout. Her stable mate, Scarlett, was unfortunately poorly and it was a shame that the two girls, who swim so well together, didn’t get to race together. Grace Finlay of Sharks, ever keen to swim up from the novice league set-up, produced two strong swims to set lifetime bests and identify herself as a swimmer to watch out for in the future.

Kiera and Isla Lorimer competed on Saturday morning, both setting excellent new breaststroke times, with Isla just missing out on a new IM time. Louise Moncrieff had three races, setting PB’s in the first two, swimming really well in the 50m Breaststroke showing great technique. Sister Lindsay set PB’s in all three of her swims, with her 100m IM a particularly strong swim, showing good technique across all four strokes. Jock and Lucy Robertson swam on different days, with Lucy producing a great performance in her 100m Free, although she may have jumped the gun by a tiny fraction of a second but that didn’t detract from a solid swim. Jock, still new to the whole gala thing, swam a positive 100m Breaststroke taking nearly five-seconds off his entry time.

Ollie Goad had a mixed day with two lifetime bests, two others just missed and a DQ to give him a full hand. A determined swimmer, Ollie’s highlight was his 50m Backstroke a race in which he just gets faster and faster. The Baillie boys were all in attendance over the weekend. Findlay picked up a medal in the breaststroke, which isn’t unusual for Findlay, but his best racing of the weekend was without doubt his Freestyle where in both the 50m & 200m races he turned in superb performances setting excellent lifetime bests. Euan, racing on Sunday, set a new time for his 50m Fly but just missed out on his 100m swim. The 50m Freestyle saw Euan pitted against younger brother Lewis and in what was a cracking race, Euan smashed the 30-second-barrier for the first time much to his delight. Lewis finished just a half-second behind to set a new PB too. This weekend saw Lewis as a real tour-de-force in club swimming, with four medals going his way and five out of six races being lifetime bests. Best swim of the weekend for me was his 200m Breaststroke where he smashed his previous PB by six-seconds giving the Inverness swimmer ahead of him a good run for his money. Brother Findlay’s response was that it was ‘alright’. Watch out for Lewis at the Scottish Schools where he is sure to be a front runner in his premiere event.

Albert Badia joined us for the Saturday morning sessions, picking up PB’s in all three of his races, with his breaststroke swim timed really well. He too is a relative novice at such large competitive meets yet he handled the pressure like an old-hand showing his growing maturity as a competitive swimmer. This was a positive follow on from his races at Cumbernauld in June.

Adam Young had a weekend of ups and downs with some swims first class and other races where he performed out of sorts. Determined to use the races as a springboard for future performance, Adam took on-board coaching feedback and recognises the areas where he needs to focus. He picked up an unexpected medal in the 100m Backstroke much to his delight. Adam is set to enjoy the training delivered by SASA as part of the Bronze Squad programme next month, having secured a well-deserved place last season. 12-yr-old Murdo Denholm was really focussed this weekend on his race preparation and seeking coaching advice, where he went on to produce a string of lifetime bests and enjoyed a thrilling race with Adam in the 200m Freestyle. Taking on the 200m Fly, Murdo showed he is happy to grasp the nettle of challenging swims and produced a good performance in what was his first accredited swim at this distance.

Connor Houston, new to the squad, but a well-known face amongst the swimmers who trained with him at Fife Performance, swam strongly for his new club delivering three out of three lifetime bests, with his 200m Freestyle a particularly good swim. He has settled in quickly at training and is already a well-liked member of the Gold Squad. Millie Buchan showed real form this weekend in her races, setting excellent times, with her 100m IM a ripping race which showcased how hard she has worked on developing her swim skills across the board. Hopefully this will encourage Millie to race more regularly as she is showing good form currently. Cameron McMaster continued to impress me with both is determination and improved skills base. A swimmer who listens well at training, Cameron produced several excellent races and was delighted to win his heat in the 50m Breaststroke where he swam stroke-for-stroke with Adam, just managing to pip him at the post. Adam is recognised by his peers as ‘the one to beat’ given his remarkable swimming talent, so you can imagine how pleased Cameron was to touch him out at the wall. Cameron too is a relative newcomer to competitive swimming but is quickly setting his stamp on things.

Nine-year-old Jessica MacLeod of Sharks had an enjoyable weekend, swimming well in her backstroke race and producing an outstanding race in her 50m Freestyle. Jessica won her heat comfortably and set an excellent time for such a young swimmer showing a well-timed and comfortable stroke. Jessica trained regularly across the summer and is an athlete who listens well and translates training into performance. Like Grace, she is a Junior Club swimmer who is comfortable to take on the challenge of higher level meets. Both Grace and Jessica trained at Glenrothes on Monday’s, coached by Wendy Hay, and their improvement has been helped by them taking on the extra swim time. Last but not least, Catriona Cleary and Ellen McQuilton, two swimmers who train together regularly, both produced some fabulous races and encouraged one-another to swim well. Catriona started last season with a run of 17 personal bests and this year has started in a similar fashion with seven-for-seven. Her 100m Freestyle and Fly races saw her dig deep and produce the goods when it mattered. A swimmer who gets out of swimming what she puts into it. Ellen competed in three races on Sunday and was on top form in each. Her 200m Breaststroke was a fantastic race to watch as she constantly worked hard to catch up with the girl ahead of her. The best performance for me though was her 50m Freestyle where she showed real power in the water. Ellen is committed during training sessions and is then able to use that to good effect in her competitions.

Our next gala is the Geordie Wotherspoon/Fife Championship on Sunday 14th September. My thanks to coaches Duncan Hewitt and Mark McQuilton for their assistance poolside and also to Team Manager Karen Baillie who once again ensured everything ran smoothly.

Mark Laing, Head Coach, Cupar and District Swimming Club, 31st August 2014

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