SNAGS 2022

Derek Cowie

The first Scottish National Age Group Championships in 3 years were held at Tollcross between 13-17 April with North Ayrshire Swimming having 9 individual representatives and a further 9 swimmers attending for relays.

3 years is a long time in a swimmers career so our swimmers were super excited to be back racing at the national level. For many of our swimmers, this was their first opportunity racing at this level and their swims did not disappoint.

After the 5 days of racing, North Ayrshire swimmers came home with 5 medals. Swimmer of the meet was undoubtedly Lewis Gibson who won 4 of the 5 medals. Lewis’s first medal came on the first night in the final of the 200m breaststroke where Lewis won a well-deserved bonze medal. He was out faster than in his heat swim but also managed to come back faster on the last 50 for a 2 second improvement on his heat swim and a fantastic start to the week.

The following afternoon saw Lewis become a National champion for the first time in the 400m freestyle. In a closely fought race with the swimmer from Garioch, Lewis had the better turns and had the strength in the last 100m to take a lead and he wasn’t giving that up as he stormed home for the gold medal.

Lewis become a double Scottish champion on the evening of day 4 with another super swim in the 200m freestyle. Much like the 200m breaststroke, he needed to make another improvement from heat to final to hold off the rest of the field and take another big win.

Lewis’s final medal came on the final night on the 100m freestyle when coming back on the 2nd 50m really strongly, at one point it looked like he might be able to catch the swimmer from Aberdeen who had went out fast but in the end he had to settle for a Silver medal and an outstanding meet. As well as the four medals Lewis won, he also finished in the top 10 in the 50m butterfly, 50m freestyle, 100m breaststroke, 200m IM and 400m IM.

Only a few weeks prior to SNAGS, Lewis had been forced to take a week off training due to an injury which makes his achievements more impressive. Lewis is always one of the first swimmers in at training and rarely, if ever misses a session. He deserves his success at this meet.

Our fifth medal of the meet came from 13 year old Emma Binnie in the 800m freestyle who despite going in to the meet in 8th place, had a storming race, dropping 30 seconds from her entry time and finishing with a wonderful Silver medal. The icing on the cake for Emma was being awarded her medal by her hero, Hannah Miley. Emma also had a ninth place finish in the 400m IM. Emma is one of the hardest working swimmers you will see at the pool so it is no surprise to see her performing so well in two of the toughest events you get.

14 year old Fraser Cowie also had a fantastic meet with 4 finals in the 100m and 200m backstroke and the 50m and 100m butterfly. It was great having 16 year olds Adam Currie, Heather Stuart and Rachel McGuire back racing at SNAGS and it was the first time there for 15 year old Zoe Matchett and 13 year olds Dean Binnie and Kouper Sloss. Two of our relay teams also managed top ten spots with our boys 11-13 years 4x100 freestyle relay in 8th and girls 11-13 years 4x100 medley relay in 9th.

This was a very positive first SNAGS for myself as Head Coach at North Ayrshire Swimming and gives us a great platform to build on for next year and beyond.  To win 5 medals was excellent but what pleased me most was how the swimmers were able to assess their own races and any feedback they were given from myself was worked on for their next race. I have already set myself goals for the team for next year. I firmly believe we can take giant strides over the next 12 months. If the swimmers take one session at a time and give 100% at each session, I can’t wait to see where that takes us.  

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