Inverclyde record convincing victory at mini league

Clare Beck

Inverclyde Amateur Swimming Club kicked off their mini league 2020 campaign in style, dropping just four points in the 46 events to take a convincing victory in Kilmarnock.

For swimmers 11 and under, mini league is one of the most exciting competitions in the swimming calendar. 16 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. In the last couple of years, the club has finished in 3rd place, and hopes are high for making the final again.

The first match of the competition saw IASC take on hosts Kilmarnock, Rutherglen and Dumfries. Swimmers compete in age groups in both individual and relay swims. Although the team went into the pool as pre-match favourites, nothing could be taken for granted and the nerves were jangling among the young swimmers.

A change in the format last year enabled the club to field a much larger team than normal, but this year reverted back to the usual 4-team format. That meant that this year’s team was slimmed down, with only three swimmers making their debut this year.

Swimming in the girls 8 & under team were Mirrin Fay, Olivia Lyne and Taguen Maloney and for the boys were Charlie Lyne and Brodie McArthur. The 9-year olds girls team was made up of newcomer Honor McCardie, Ella Morrison and Nina Spirit-Hawthorne. The 9-year old boys were Oliver Gibson, Finlay Morrice and newcomer Joshua Marrone.

The 10-year olds team had Sophie Campbell, Abigail McAnerney, Isabella McClafferty and Eilidh Melrose competing for the girls and Scott Brodie, Josh Docherty, Oliver Jones and newcomer Lewis Bray swimming for the boys. The 11-year olds were led by team captains Mirren McConnell and Archie McArthur, with Skye McLellan and Eve Morrison making up the girls team and Cameron Beck swimming for the boys.

The competition got off to a flying start with the medley relay swims where Inverclyde claimed an early lead by winning all six races. The atmosphere was electric, but the early wins helped to settle the nerves. Across all age groups it was evident that the break since last year’s final had left them hungry for success. Both newcomers and old-timers alike were in superb form, and matched their efforts in the pool with their enthusiasm in cheering on their teammates.

Medley relays over, it was on to the individual events where swimmers compete in their age groups across all four individual strokes. Again Inverclyde dominated these events, winning all but two of the 32 races. Every swimmer participating recorded at least one win, with some swimmers competing in the age category above to deputise for absent swimmers or make up the numbers in the relay teams.

With the individual events completed, Inverclyde were guaranteed the victory, but both swimmers and coaches were determined to close out the match in style with the freestyle relays. With 8 different events and reserve relay teams competing, it was a manic finish, with several swimmers racing back to back and running from one end of the pool to the other to be in position for the next race. It all proved worth it though, with maximum points going to Inverclyde once again.

The final scores were Inverclyde 226; Dumfries 109; Kilmarnock 84; Rutherglen 72. It is the best points total Inverclyde have achieved in a mini league match that anyone can remember.

Coach Kyara Finlay was delighted with the result and the effort of the swimmers but was keen to make sure we take nothing for granted. “It was an incredible result to only drop four points throughout the whole afternoon and shows what great talent we have throughout the team – even with some of our swimmers missing. But as the competition progresses, the rounds will get harder and harder and we need to continue to work on our technical skills. Our next match is against one of the best teams in the league, so we’ve got to keep focused on improving these key areas to give ourselves the best chance possible. We’ve got a taste of success now, and we want to keep it going!”  

Inverclyde take on hosts Ren 96, Kintyre and Kingston in their next match at the end of March.