Inverclyde Amateur Swimming Club set for National Championships

TOMORROW will finally see the return of the Scottish National Age Group Championships – the pinnacle of the competitive calendar for Inverclyde Amateur Swimming Club.

It’s another banner year for the club, with 18 athletes entered in 100 individual events and three more swimmers competing in seven relay events.

Last contested in 2019, Matthew Garrity and Aimee Watson have waited a long time to defend their titles.

Matthew is the defending age group champion in the 100m and 200m breaststroke.

He was also the fastest Scotsman in the 200m and 400m individual medley (IM) events; silver medalist in the 800m freestyle and bronze medalist in the 50m breaststroke.

However, Matthew has been in a race against time to recover from injury and although he will compete in his five selected events, it is still unclear how well he has recovered.

Aimee is the defending champion in the 50m and 100m breaststroke and the silver medalist in the 200m breaststroke and 200m individual medley.

Aimee will compete in eight events and hopes to peak at the right time to replicate her previous success.

Molly Cannon, 17, is making a welcome return to five events with high hopes of qualifying for multiple finals.

Matthew, Aimee and Molly are in their final year of competition with the club, and all hope to finish well.

There are four other swimmers competing in the 16-year-old age group. Making their debuts, April Craynor and Honor McGeehan have both qualified for three events, while Lewis Gray and Oliver Patton will hope their previous Scottish National Age Group Championships (SNAGS) experience will see them progress to the final in some of their 10 and five events respectively.

Among the 15-year-olds, Betty Fischer Keogh qualified for the 100m breaststroke. Luke Garrity will compete in nine individual events and Peter Maloney in four. Both have SNAGS experience and therefore also hope for outstanding performances.

Mirren McConnell is the sole representative of the 14-year-old age group, but she is set for an exciting competitive debut in seven individual events.

But while that’s a swan song for the club’s veterans, it’s the 13-and-under swimmers competing in their very first SNAGS that really drive the numbers up and create a very exciting future for the club.

Most important is Archie McArthur, who qualified easily for all 17 individual events but chose to withdraw from some to focus on his 12 favorite races.

Keep an eye on Archie for medal potential.

Cameron Beck will compete in 11 individual events and Scott Brodie in eight. Regular medalists at the Western District level, both boys will be aiming to make it to the finals in some of their races.

Relative newcomer Clark Malkin Gill also makes his debut in two butterfly events. The club’s youngest competitor this year is Blake Herdman. Still in elementary school, Blake did incredibly well qualifying for three individual events.

On the girls’ side, Abigail McAnerney and Eilidh Melrose will each compete in two events and both are expected to put in strong performances on their competitive debuts.

As part of the relay teams, Anna McClafferty and Abbie Logan are competing in the 800m freestyle girls over 17 relay alongside Aimee and Molly. Corey McGivern will round out the boys 14-16 team with Luke, Lewis, Peter and Oliver, who will compete in the 400m freestyle and 400m medley relays.

Three other relay teams will compete over the five days. The 11-13 year old men’s team – made up of Cameron, Scott, Blake, Clark and Archie – will compete in the 400m freestyle and 400m medley relays.

The 14-16 mixed team of April, Luke, Lewis, Honor and Mirren will take on the 400m medley and Molly, Matthew and Aimee will be joined by former club member Thomas Cannon in the 17 mixed 400m medley years and older.

Head coach Shirley Reford is delighted to see the club return to the top level and is excited about the strength and depth of the team.

She said: “The club is represented in each of the 17 individual events – a first in our history.

“It’s great to see so many swimmers qualifying in a variety of strokes and distances, especially in the younger age groups.

“While I hope to make finals in many events – and maybe even a few medals – we must not forget how amazing it is to get through the tough qualifying times in the first place.

“I’m so proud of each one of them.”

Pictured, back row, left to right, Kyara Mitchell (coach); Scott Brodie, Corey McGivern, Aimee Watson, Abbie Logan, Anna McClafferty, Lewis Gray, Molly Cannon, Oliver Patton, Peter Maloney. Front row, left to right, Abigail McAnerney, Blake Herdman, Honor McGeehan, Mirren McConnell, Eilidh Melrose, Cameron Beck, Archie McArthur, Matthew Garrity, Luke Garrity, Shirley Reford (head coach). Not pictured, April Craynor, Betty Fischer Keogh, Clark Malkin Gill.