Swimmers get season off to flying start at UK Games

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Borders’ swimmers are continuing to make a splash at both local and international levels, writes Fiona Scott.

At the 2013 Sainsbury’s UK School Games in Sheffield, Borders Elite Swim Team and Kelso ASC members Ryan Brown and Kirsty Armstrong were representing the Scotland South and East Team.

Brown, 15, won gold in the 16-and-under 200m butterfly in a time of 2:08.89 and silver in the 16-and-under 100m butterfly in 58.51. He also helped the boys’ team take fourth place in the 4x100m medley relay.

Swimming in a much older age bracket, Armstrong, 13, clinched sixth place in the 16- and-under 200m butterfly in 2:25.11.

Caroline Brown (Kelso ASC and Borders Elite Swim Team) was head coach for the Scotland South and East Team which placed fifth overall, winning 16 medals in total, an improvement on last year’s sixth slot with nine medals.

Head coach of Borders Elite Swim Team (BEST), Alex Jordan, told The Southern: “Ryan’s only the second member of BEST to win gold at this level, so he’s done a great job.

“Considering we’re only about three weeks into the season, both swimmers posted very solid times, particularly Ryan who even managed to record a PB.

“It’s good to have a starting point and all indications are that Ryan and Kirsty should enjoy another successful season ahead.”

Lucy Hope, also a member of Borders Elite Swim Team and Kelso ASC, had been selected for the Scotland South and East Team also, but passed up her place to attend a British Swimming backstroke camp in Bath.

On Saturday the BEST performance squad had help from one of the world’s top swimming coaches of the past decade at their training session.

Stephan Widmer is a native of Switzerland and prior to last year coached in Brisbane, Australia, for 16 years.

He has been travelling with his family and consulting for the past year, and is in the UK for the British Swimming Coaches Association Conference, held from September 27-29 in Solihull.

Scottish Swimming arranged for him to come north of the border before the conference to speak and work with some of the country’s leading programmes, including Borders Elite Swim Team.

Stephan has coached Australians Libby Trickett and Leisel Jones to world and Olympic gold medals and world records.

He has also trained world record holders and world/Olympic medallists Jessica Schipper and Christian Sprenger, among many other world-class swimmers.

Coach Jordan, whose home town is Brisbane, told us: “Stephan attended our session to do some work with me and the swimmers.

“I then spent several hours with him to discuss my programme, methods and coaching which will hopefully make the programme even stronger going forward.

“It was obviously a privilege and fantastic opportunity to have Stephan visit the programme. I learned a lot from him and the swimmers enjoyed having him at their programme.

“Best of all, Stephan was impressed with what he saw, so I’m very pleased with the swimmers.”

Last week also saw a big weekend for Kelso Swimming Club as it hosted its third annual gala, entertaining teams from Duns, Eyemouth, Gala, Hawick, Musselburgh, Peebles, Portobello and Teviotdale.

Individual medal winners from Kelso were Dwain Patterson (gold, 50m backstroke and freestyle; silver, 50m breast; bronze, 50m fly) and Erika Coupek (silver, 50m backstroke and breaststroke). The mixed 10-11 team of Erika Coupek, Rebekah Cove, Dwain Patterson and Harry Richardson brought home bronze in both the medley and freestyle relays.

The Roger McKay Memorial Trophy for 200m Individual Medley was won by Kelso’s Lizi Clelland, while both the top team and relay trophies were lifted by Hawick.

The medals were presented by Euan Broadwood from Sainsbury’s and Liz Hastie, one of the East District officials. The club is grateful to the sponsors, as well as the officials, volunteers, swimmers, friends and families.