Hope springs a pair of medals as Borderers gain eternal praise

Kelso's Lucy Hope (centre) grabbed a brace of bronzes at the recent Scottish Open Swimming Championships at the Commonwealth Pool in Edinburgh at the weekend.
Kelso's Lucy Hope (centre) grabbed a brace of bronzes at the recent Scottish Open Swimming Championships at the Commonwealth Pool in Edinburgh at the weekend.
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CONSISTING of age-group and youth swimmers, the Borders Elite Swim Team left an impression on the 2012 Scottish Open Swimming Championships, held at the Royal Commonwealth Pool, Edinburgh, from June 28 to July 1.

The youngsters showed just how competitive they are against Scotland’s senior elite swimmers after contesting a significant number of finals and taking home two bronze medals and three Scottish age-group records.

Lucy Hope, still in full training for the fast-approaching British Youth Championships, won bronze in both the 200m backstroke and 100m backstroke with fine displays. The 15-year-old Kelso Swimming Club member narrowly missed a spot on the podium in the 50m backstroke, placing fourth, and also gave a very good account of herself in the 50m butterfly B final, taking an impressive 1.5 seconds off her previous best to finish second (eighth overall).

Also from Kelso ASC, Kirsty Armstrong was narrowly beaten for the Scottish junior (16 and under) title after placing second in the B final (ninth overall) of the 400m individual medley. She took command of the race with a supreme performance as the 12-year-old challenged the field of much older opponents to match her pace. Armstrong smashed the previous Scottish 12 years record by 2.5 seconds. Her record-breaking spree continued with new national marks set in the 200m butterfly (2nd B final – ninth overall) and the 50m breaststroke (18th overall).

Fourteen-year-old Ryan Brown, again from Kelso ASC, performed with maturity beyond his years. Brown placed second in the B final (10th overall) of the 200m backstroke with a very determined, never-say-die performance. He also took fourth place in the B final (12th overall) of the 200m butterfly. Recording impressive personal bests, Brown was just shaded for the Scottish junior title in both events.

Making it four senior national finalists for Kelso ASC was 14-year-old Morgan Anderson. He placed fifth in the B final (13th overall) of the 200m breaststroke and finished his season with significant PBs in all three breaststroke events (50m, 100m and 200m).

Gala ASC members Robbie Czajka, 14, and Amy Fraser, 17, did well to qualify for the senior competition and performed admirably in all of their events.

Borders performance coach Alex Jordan told TheSouthern: “I’m very pleased that our young squad members are proving to be so competitive at the national senior level.

“Lucy is on the podium at 15 years of age, Kirsty is racing more experienced swimmers fearlessly, and Ryan and Morgan are really taking the fight to opponents who are, physically, vastly more mature than they are.

“It’s exciting to think of what Borders swimmers will be able to achieve in national senior competition when the playing field is levelled over the next few years.”

Hope, Brown and Fraser all receive support from the Borders Athlete Support Programme, with Hope receiving additional support from the Scottish Institute of Sport. All three swimmers, along with Armstrong, Anderson and Czajka, also receive support from the Roxburgh and Ettrick & Lauderdale sports councils.

Armstrong, Brown and Hope are now preparing for their final competition of the season, the British age-group and Youth Championships, to be held in Sheffield from July 17. All three swimmers are well ranked and are eyeing up the podium in their main events.