Largs teenager Fraser Kelly proved he is a force to be reckoned with as he stormed to two medal wins at the Scottish National Age Group swimming championships in Glasgow.
Another local swimmer, Isla Waller, was making her debut on the national stage at the age of just 10 at the event at Tollcross.
Fraser claimed a bronze medal in the 200m fly before taking a stunning silver in the 400m individual medley, the ultimate test of all-round swimming ability with a 5 second PB.
Fraser said: “I set my goals for SNAGS and I definitely achieved most of them with loads of PBs and made all the finals and medalled in two of them. The 400m IM was great and I didn’t expect that result.”
“This was a real coming of age week for Fraser Kelly as a swimmer,” says head coach Ross Douglas. “He put some excellent swims together, his 200m fly being a personal highlight.
“The 400 IM was just as good because it was a statement. He hadn’t had a particularly good 100m fly just before it and he put that to the back of his mind and came out and put in that medal-winning swim which was a real test of character and it shows how much he’s moved on and matured.”
Fraser made 4 other finals with 5th places in the 50m fly & 100m fly and a 5th place in the 800m free with an 8.5 sec PB.
Largs was well represented at the biggest swimming event of the year in Scotland with 17 year old James Marshall making a return to the 5-day national finals.
“It was a great experience for me as an individual swimmer because I did a lot better than I expected,” he reflected. “It really helped having the team members there to motivate me. I didn’t expect to make the final for the 100m breast because 17/18 is a really tough age group.
“I set out to take nearly two seconds off my time and go under 1’10 as a hard but achievable goal and in the heats I managed to get a 1’09.7 and I was ecstatic to get into the final which motivated me and gave me the confidence in myself. In the final I posted another 1’09.7 which I was very pleased about.”
Coach, Ross, was delighted with his performance: “James made a surprise final in the 100m breaststroke last year and he set himself a goal of doing that again, and the 17/18 age group is a really tough one, and to make the final with the time he did was a really significant improvement. It was an excellent swim.
James was also a key member of the relay squads teaming up with Falire’s Connor Tarran in the 17+ 4x200m relay where they took 6th place.
Andrew Sutherland, who’s also from Fairlie, was part of the boys 14 – 16 squad who had a solid three races taking 9th in the 4x200m, 11th in the 4x100m and were 13th in the 4x100m medley.
Isla Waller was one of the youngest swimmers at Tollcross, the 10 year old making her debut at the national championships as part of the quartet of girls making up the 11 to 13 year old relay team.
They were in action on the Thursday and Sunday afternoons taking 2.8 sec off their time for the 4×100 medley and then chopping 4.5 secs off their time for the 4×100 free.
Ross Douglas was keen for the girls to get a taste of performing at the biggest even in the country with the aim of qualifying in their own right for individual races next year.
“Taking part in the relays brought a real sense of togetherness and team spirit,” he explains.
“I think there’s been a trickle down of success and others in the team are starting to see what they need to be doing and the how the rewards will come from that.”
He was also anxious to also pay tribute Alan Dickson, the coach of the junior squad at the club.
“Alan was at Tollcross for all five days of the meet and I couldn’t have done it without him,” says Ross.” He’s a moral support for me, he’s good with the kids and he’s very level-headed and we bounce off each other well. It’s a perfect working relationship.”
The atmosphere at Tollcross was electric and those who couldn’t make it to Glasgow were able to share the excitement and cheer on the swimmers with the evening sessions shown on a live steam on the Scottish Swimming social media channels.