A Borders swimmer is travelling half way around the world in order to boost her chances of one day competing for her country, writes Fiona Scott.
Kirsty Armstrong, from Kelso, will fly out to Australia on January 4 to join former Borders Elite Swim Team (BEST) coach Alex Jordan at his new posting at a private swimming academy in Melbourne.
The 15-year-old Kelso High School pupil has the opportunity to continue her studies while training alongside some of Australia’s talented young swimmers, but the decision to leave her family and friends behind has not been an easy one.
“When the opportunity first arose earlier this year I was quite scared and had to have a long hard think about it,” she told The Southern.
Kirsty has been a member of Kelso ASC for the last eight years and a member of BEST for four years. She holds numerous Scottish and East district records and has represented Scotland in Ireland and Barcelona as a youth international swimmer. She is currently a Scottish age group champion in four events and a junior champion in butterfly this year. Kirsty has received five British age group medals over the last three years.
Thanks to her hard work and good attitude in training, and her progression in her swimming, Kirsty fitted the criteria to achieve a scholarship at the Melbourne school, which could run for up to three years.
“After my initial apprehension I am really quite excited about going now and will put 100 per cent effort into both my swimming and schooling,” she added.
“It will be great to be reunited with Alex. We work really well together and have been a winning combination in the past.
“One of my aims is to compete for Scotland at the next Commonwealth Games at the Gold Coast in 2018 and I believe my time in Australia will help me achieve that.”
Kirsty will travel to Australia in the new year with her mum Karen and dad Gordon who will stay with her for two months to help her settle in to her new surroundings and her new home with the Jordan family.
“We support her in her decision and will help her fulfil her dreams the best we can,” said Karen.
The teenage swim star has also had great support from her pastoral teacher at Kelso High School, Tom Angus, in making the transition to her new school as easy as possible, as well as receiving great support from the ASP and Roxburgh Sports Council, for which she is very grateful.