Hawick hosts virtual swim

Duncan Scott helps promote the Learn to Swim venture in a light-hearted fashion (picture by Stuart Nicol).
Duncan Scott helps promote the Learn to Swim venture in a light-hearted fashion (picture by Stuart Nicol).

Borders people now have the chance to test their freestyle swimming speed against an Olympic athlete – without getting wet.

Teviotdale Leisure Centre in Hawick is hosting an interactive swimming race game, ‘Challenge Duncan’, for the next couple of weeks and is encouraging people to come along and test their speed.

‘Challenge Duncan’ is a unique interactive experience that allows participants to try and swim as fast as Duncan, matching the speed that propelled the 22-year-old to the British record of 47.9 seconds for the 100m freestyle.

Duncan recently broke his own record at the British Championships in Glasgow, setting a new best time of 47.87 seconds – and now he’s challenging the Borders to do the same.

The experience was created to mark Scottish Water’s partnership with Scottish Swimming to promote the nationwide Learn to Swim programme, which aims to help 100,000 children to become confident swimmers.

There are already over 3000 Borders children participating in the Learn to Swim programme – more than 650 of whom are under five years old.

Teviotdale Leisure Centre is one of six swimming pools in the Borders which supports the venture – the others being Galashiels, Selkirk, Kelso, Peebles and Eyemouth.

Players of ‘Challenge Duncan’ must mimic swimming strokes with their arms to match the stroke rate of Duncan’s record time as seen on a giant TV screen.

Sensors pick up their arm speed and show how many metres they have travelled in the same time as Duncan completed his 100m race.

The players with the fastest times will have their names and speeds displayed on a leader board.

Duncan said: “It’s hard for people to really appreciate the speed of elite swimmers, so ‘Challenge Duncan’ is a great way to show how just fast you have to move to win a gold medal.

“I met some pretty impressive swimmers from across the Borders in Hawick earlier this month and I’d be keen to see which of them might be able to beat me.

“Of course, the game is played out of the water, but it can really help you channel the lane-focused mentality you need to win a race – it’s great.”

Duncan, who won six medals at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in Australia last year – the most won ever by a Scottish athlete at a single Games – two silvers at his first Olympic Games in Rio and National Lottery Athlete of the Year, is the ambassador of the Learn to Swim programme.

Amanda Blacklock, aquatics officer at Live Borders, said: “I’d encourage as many people as possible to take the chance to play ‘Challenge Duncan’ over the next couple of weeks.

“It’s great fun and who knows? It might just just help us discover the next Duncan Scott here in the Borders.”

Ally Whike, performance director of Scottish Swimming, said: “The commitment of Live Borders in delivering the Learn to Swim Framework is helping to ensure that everyone can swim.”