Six young swimmers from South Mainland Amateur Swimming Club had a successful weekend at the North District Age Group Meet at Inverness.
While fellow Shetland county squad swimmer Felix Gifford of Delting Dolphins stood out as the most successful 13-14 boy, South Mainland’s Donnie Price, aged 12, was the top boy in the 10-12 age bracket.
The only boy in his age group to compete in all 12 events, Donnie won golds in the 100m freestyle, 200m freestyle, 400m freestyle and 1,500m freestyle. Silver was won in the 100m breaststroke and bronzes came in the 200m breaststroke and 200m backstroke.
In each swim a personal best time was achieved and 10 new Shetland 11/12 years age group records were accomplished on the way, including the 200m butterfly and both the 200m and 400m individual medleys.
Undoubtedly Donnie’s outstanding swim was in the 1,500m freestyle. Guaranteed to win a medal, since only three boys were competing in the longest pool event, he swam in a seeded heat that also included boys from the older age group.
Going out fast from the start, Donnie maintained his pace in clockwork fashion, pulled ahead of some of the bigger boys by halfway, and, cheered on by his team mates poolside during the last 200m, finished two lengths clear of the second swimmer in his age group. Finishing in a time of 18.50.22, he had knocked off 59 seconds from the previous Shetland 11/12 years record.
Darin Eldridge, aged 11, competing in the meet for the second year, was kept very busy with 11 events. He displayed improvement in entry times for all strokes and distances, but especially in the 200m and 400m events where he has had little previous experience at this level of competition. In the 400m IM he took off a remarkable 15 seconds from his PB, to finish in 6.14.72, 11th place overall but third out of the 11-year-old boys. Darin’s best achievement was in the 200m breaststroke where he finished seventh overall, the second fastest 11-year-old.
Only five 10-year-old boys had qualified for the Inverness meet, and two of them, James Morris and Eddie Price, were from South Mainland. James swam in five events, and despite having been ill the previous week, managed to produce three good personal best times. James and Eddie, used to pushing each other in training at Sandwick, had a fantastic race in the 200m backstroke, where Eddie was just out-touched by half a second by James, whose time of 3.08.77 was a new Shetland record for 10-year-old boys.
In both the 100m and the 200m freestyle James and Eddie were again swimming in the same heat. Eddie finished with a good PB in the 100m and James was just outside his previous best.
The 200m free, the last event for both boys, was once more closely fought – both producing huge eight-second PBs. Eddie, the youngest boy from over 20 clubs competing at the meet, finished in a time of 2.43.72, beating his big brother’s Shetland 10-year boys’ record by over two seconds.
The girls taking part were 12-year-olds Kirsty Laurenson, competing at the event for the first time, and Sarah Keay. Sarah woke up on the Saturday with a stinking cold, so the weekend was going to be a real challenge. However, despite feeling far from top form, she coped well with the fairly hefty schedule of 10 events, and produced swims close to her entry times.
Remarkably, Sarah even managed to pull off a couple of PBs. In her best event of the weekend, the 100m breaststroke, she broke the 1.30 mark for the first time, with 1.29.00, a two-second PB and finished in an excellent seventh overall position.
In 2007, Kirsty just missed qualifying for the event, but with a further 12 months of sound training found herself now swimming in 10 events. In nearly all her races she produced good PBs. Her best swims came in 200m butterfly and the 400m IM, arguably the two toughest events in competitive swimming. With her stamina gained from regular hard work in the pool, Kirsty showed brilliant improvement from her previous times.
A spokeswoman said the South Mainland ASC would like to thank NorthLink Ferries, Mainlands, JHB Ltd, JA & GD Nicolson and Freefield Pharmacy for their sponsorship and support.