Borders trio make waves at national championships

Borders elite swimmers, from left, Kirsty Armstrong, Lucy Hope and Ryan Brown did the borders proud at the recent British Age Group and Youth Swimming Championships.
Borders elite swimmers, from left, Kirsty Armstrong, Lucy Hope and Ryan Brown did the borders proud at the recent British Age Group and Youth Swimming Championships.
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THE Borders Elite Swim Team rounded off an impressive 2011/2012 season with an array of fine performances at the British Age Group and Youth Swimming Championships held in Sheffield from July 17 to 26.

Three members of the team claimed one gold, one silver and two bronze medals and broke two Scottish age-group records in their best performance at the competition.

Kirsty Armstrong won herself a set of medals – gold, silver and bronze – to better her haul of a single silver at the competition last year. The 12-year-old from Kelso ASC took gold in the 400m individual medley with an extremely gutsy display, leading from start to finish. She also claimed silver in the 100m butterfly, smashing her own Scottish age-group record in the process. Her bronze came in the 200m butterfly, while she demolished another of her own Scottish records when narrowly missing the podium, placing fourth, in the 200m individual medley.

Armstrong’s Kelso clubmate Ryan Brown won his first medal at British level, scoring bronze in the 14 years’ 200m butterfly. This was the only event Brown qualified for last year, placing 17th.

However, this year he also came fifth in the 400m individual medley, with an impressive five-second personal best, and fifth in the 100m butterfly, taking more than a second off his previous best. Brown narrowly missed the 200m individual medley final and was a certainty for the 200m backstroke final, but pulled out to concentrate on his 200m butterfly event.

At the end of a stellar season, Lucy Hope struggled to find her previous form at this meet.

However, the 15-year-old still managed to place sixth in the final of the 15/16 years 100m backstroke, an example of her great class.

Hope, again a member of Kelso ASC, made it through to the semi-finals in the 200m backstroke as well as the 50m freestyle.

The swimmers’ performances at this meet capped off a brilliant season which has brought unprecedented success for the Borders Elite Swim Team.

Earlier in the season, Hope won the squad’s first medals at Scottish senior level and narrowly missed selection for the GB junior team.

The squad has also this season broken 12 national records, compared to three last year, won 11 Scottish age-group gold medals, compared to one last year, and doubled last year’s haul of East District Records to 40.

Scottish national coach Doug Campbell said: “Borders performance coach Alex Jordan and his assistants Katrina Hope and Caroline Brown have established one of Scotland’s best age-group/youth programmes down in the Borders and this season’s results have well and truly proven that.

“Lucy Hope has really come of age this year with fantastic results at the national level.

“Ryan Brown has made some incredible improvements thanks to his great work ethic and ‘tough-as-nails’ attitude, while Kirsty Armstrong has proven time and again this season that she’s one to watch for the future. The whole Borders team is improving and performing consistently year on year.”

Hope, Brown and Armstrong all receive support from the Borders Athlete Support Programme and Roxburgh Sports Council, with Hope receiving additional support from the Scottish Institute of Sport.