Aimee takes on the best of British at McCullagh

Clare Beck


Inverclyde’s Aimee Watson was part of the Scottish Swimming Youth Development Squad who recently travelled to Northern Ireland to compete against some of the biggest names in British and Irish swimming at the Dave McCullagh Memorial Meet.

The competition was an exciting challenge for the youngsters who were selected from development camps in 2019. Swimmers received expert coaching to help develop their nutrition, physical preparation and race analysis skills, and experience competing in the ‘Tokyo Olympics’ format: heats in the afternoon and evenings and finals in the morning.

Amongst the line up were swimming stars such as Adam Peaty, Duncan Scott and Ross Murdoch as well as a number of Olympic hopefuls who are busy preparing for the Olympic trials in April.

Scottish Swimming National Coach, Alan Lynn said "We are excited to see how these promising young swimmers cope with such challenging competitive conditions. Racing this quality of opposition, in unfamiliar surroundings and with the reverse format is a great way to test themselves. We expect focus, attention to detail, learning to love the challenge of race day and having fun with new friends."

Aimee was competing in six events over the four days of competition. First up on the Thursday evening was the 100m freestyle, where a solid performance just outside her PB settled the nerves. After a short turnaround it was the 100m breaststroke and despite not swimming at her fastest, Aimee did enough to qualify for the ‘A’ final on the Friday morning.

When the final came around, Aimee was lined up against an incredibly strong field, including Olympic hopefuls Siobhan-Marie O’Connor and Sarah Vasey. She was able to find an extra gear to go faster than the heats and finish 7th overall and as the highest place junior.

In the Friday evening heats it was time for the 50m butterfly and the 200m breaststroke. Aimee finished in the top half of swimmers in the butterfly event and just qualified for the ‘B’ final in the breaststroke, in 20th place. Once again, when the finals came around the next morning Aimee was able to dig deep and make considerable improvements to win the ‘B’ final and finish 9th overall.

On the last afternoon of competition, it was the 50m breaststroke and the 200m IM. Aimee qualified comfortably for the ‘A’ final in the breaststroke and put in a good performance in the medley event to finish just off her best time. In an exciting final of the 50m breaststroke – against world-class competition – Aimee put in a great performance to finish in 5th place, again finishing as the top junior in the event.

While the elite swimmers turn their attention to qualifying for the Olympics, Aimee’s focus will now switch to preparations for the Scottish National Age Group Championships (SNAGS) in early April. Aimee was a double champion last year and took home two silver medals as well. No doubt the McCullagh meet has provided a great, confidence-boosting experience as SNAGS 2020 approaches.

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