Friday, April 15, 2022

Fierce competition continues in hunt for Age Group Titles

The half way point of this year's Scottish National Age Group Championships was passed on the third day of competition - and marked with a night of superb swimming.

Perth City’s Katherine Bailey enjoyed another successful night in the pool securing two further titles for the 17-18 yrs age group, in the 400m freestyle and 200m butterfly.

Bailey, who has also won titles this week for 1500m freestyle and 400m IM, started the evening with the 400m freestyle, where she had to battle hard to secure victory over Natasha Simson from Warrender Baths Club. Mairi Craig from Stirling Swimming won bronze in that final.

Before taking part in the 4x100m mixed medley relay, Bailey also swam to victory in the 200m butterfly. Bailey looked strong throughout the race, finishing in a time of 2:18.88. Holly McGill of Hearts won silver with Drew McKenzie (City of Glasgow Swim Team) finishing with the bronze medal.

Bailey said of her performances,

“I focussed on the 400m free, as that’s my main event and then it was interesting to see what I had left for the 200m fly. I was happy with both, the 400 free was faster than I went last week in Sheffield, and the 200 fly was about the same so I was quite happy with that.”

Speaking about having two tough events in the same evening, Bailey said:

“I was talking to my coach about this. I tend to focus on the first event and pretend the second event isn’t in the same session. I then focus on the second event once the first one is done. If you don’t do it like that it messes with your head a bit.

Speaking about her strength in endurance events, Bailey said:

“I’m just not really very good at sprinting. I need a good 2-300 to get going and with an event like the 1500 you can fade then come back. It makes it more interesting, you can’t be complacent at all in a long race.”

Speaking about her medal success Bailey and that of team-mate Evan Davidson who himself won another two titles tonight (50m free, 100m breast), Bailey continued,

“This is the first SNAGS that Perth have done really well on. In fact we won more medals on the first day than we’ve got at any other SNAGS. We lost our pool last year and we’re only now back and I feel we’ve got a good team atmosphere, we’ve got a mascot and that’s bringing the team together which is great.”

Looking ahead to remaining goals that Bailey has set herself for this meet, she said,

“I’ve the 800m free which has been a bit rocky of late. I want to swim faster than my 1500 split. I’ve been swimming a bit slow in that event so I’m keen to see where it’s at. I’ve been working a lot on my stroke rate for it so I’m looking forward to seeing how I go.”

Having won gold in the 100m on the opening night, Robert Burgess secured his brace of backstroke titles, with gold in the 200m final. The City of Glasgow Swim Team athlete was shoulder to shoulder with team-mate Andrew Bertoli for the entire race, but Burgess touched home first in 2:08.11, just, 0.16 ahead of Bertoli who finished with silver. Euan Houston of Ren 96 completed the podium line-up with bronze.

Speaking after the race, Burgess said,

“That was really tough. Andrew is just so fast, he’s having a great week. I was just chuffed to swim well and get a PB today.

“I had a race plan, to just control the first 100 from the front. I knew Andrew was going to close the last 100 out fast, that’s just how he swims. I knew the last 50 was going to be tough but I just tried to put everything I had into it and I’m happy with how it all turned out. It was a great race.”

With City of Glasgow currently leading the top club standings, Burgess said of his Club,

“We’ve got great coaches and really strong depth in the squad; we are doing well in every age group. It is really good to surround yourself with people like that, you can work harder in the pool at training because you know that many people around you are doing well. You’ve got people to base yourself on, people you can look up to and work up to, it’s a great team to be around.”

Dean Fearn of Aberdeen Dolphins won his third and fourth titles of the meet with gold in both the 200m backstroke and the 50m freestyle (14 years). Fearn dominated the backstroke event touching home in 2:18.87, over five seconds ahead of his nearest rival, Euan Weir (Dundee City Aquatics) won won silver. Finlay Geddes of Lerwick won the bronze.

In the 50m freestyle, Fearn took the title in 25.13, ahead of Corey Philip (Dundee City Aquatics) and Fearn’s team-mate Connor Christoforos. Fearn said of his evening’s work:

“It’s good to be competing long course again. Before a race like the 200m back, I just like to get in the zone, and try and focus on my swim. I like to go off quickly but then maintain a good pace. I try not to go completely flat out but keep something for the next 50. The third 50 is often where I drop time, so I need something for the finish.

“For the 50 free, I try and use the underwater phase to my advantage. I try and get out as quick as I can, keep my head down past halfway, then it’s a maximum two breathes to the end.”

Drew McKenzie (City of Glasgow Swim Team) also enjoyed further freestyle success, with gold in the 50m free final (17-18yrs). McKenzie, who last week was at the British Swimming Championships in Sheffield, said of her performance,

“It feels good. I knew it would be a close race in the 50, I don’t have the best of starts, but it was good fun. It’s great being back and doing SNAGS again and showing off the hard work everyone has been putting in.”

Speaking about the team dynamic of City of Glasgow, McKenzie said,

“Everyone in the club is so supportive of one another, we’re cheering each other on, we’ve got the drums out for every race we’re in. We’re a big club but everyone is such close friends. It is like one big family and I love being part of it.”

Heart of Midlothian’s Josh Elliott followed up the gold he won in the 200m breaststroke, with gold in the 100m distance. Elliott controlled the race well finishing strongly in a time of 1:10.82, well ahead of nearest rival, Gregor Ross (City of Glasgow Swim Team) who took silver. Connor Christoforos (Aberdeen Dolphins), fresh from winning bronze in the 50m freestyle, won bronze in this event.

Elliott said of his performance,

“I knew before the race I would have to go out on my own, but some of the other boys swam strongly and it felt like I executed the race really well. I was more relaxed than in the heats this morning so I’m very happy with that.”

Talking about what inspires him in breaststroke, Elliott continued,

“Adam Peaty completely inspires me in breaststroke and its amazing to have him in our country. One day I’d like to think I could be standing on top of that podium with Olympic gold.”

SNAGS is running from 13-17 April at Tollcross International Swimming Centre in Glasgow.

Full Results can be found here