A group of Shetland swimmers took part in the six-day British Gas Scottish Open Championships last week, with the highlight being Felix Gifford of Delting Dolphins winning the junior 100 metres freestyle.
This year the championships doubled as a Commonwealth Games trial with British and Scottish stars including Rebecca Adlington, Jo Jackson, Hannah Miley, Robbie Renwick and David Carry.
Among the Shetland contingent were South Mainland’s Donnie Price, Lerwick’s Megan Petursdottir and Delting’s Calum MacColl who were competing for the first time at this level of competition.
Felix, 16, started the week by reaching the B final of the 200m butterfly in a new Shetland record and was reserve for the 400m freestyle. In the final of the butterfly he was placed 17th.
The following day he broke the Shetland 50m butterfly record with 27.02 and was on his PB for the 200m freestyle. On day three he broke the 15-16 Shetland record in the 100m freestyle and was awarded the junior championship.
In the afternoon’s 16-and-under group Felix reached the final of the 200m backstroke, won gold in the 400m freestyle and smashed the Shetland record with 4.04.08.
The following morning Felix took the Shetland record in the 100m butterfly and reached the open finals. However, he withdrew from this so he could concentrate on his age group in which he also reached the final. The evening saw him in the finals of the 200m freestyle and 200m IM and he took bronze in both, while he finished fourth in the 200m IM final to gain a British qualifying time.
On Saturday Felix was fifth in the 400m IM, gaining a British qualifying time. But it was in the 200m butterfly that he showed his class, leading from the beginning to win in a new Shetland record of 2.09.21 and his third gold. On the last day he was reserve for the final for the 100m backstroke and came sixth in the final of the 200m breaststroke.
Fellow Delting Dolphin Jake Swanson also did very well, making the open 50m breaststroke event for the first time where he swam on his PB. Special mention should go to his excellent swims in his ever-improving 100m backstroke and 400m IM.
Tom Raikes, swimming for the last time at this level of competition, did a PB in the 100m butterfly and all his other swims were on his PBs. The last of the Delting squad was Calum Maccoll who coped very well with the pressure to get some long-course PBs.
The Lerwick swimmers also did very well. Andrea Strachan’s performance in the heats of the 50m breaststroke saw her finish 10th and qualify for the semi-finals. Megan Petursdottir produced a PB and Callum MacGregor put in a solid performance in the 50m backstroke.
In the evening’s semi-final of the 50m breaststroke Andrea was unable to improve on her morning performance and finished 13th.
On Wednesday Andrea arrived to discover she had in fact made the final of the 50m breaststroke. Amy Harper swam well in the heats of the 100m freestyle to qualify for the semi-final while Callum did a PB in the 200m freestyle.
Andrea Strachan produced a good performance in the final of the 50m breaststroke. Starting as the 10th fastest qualifier, her solid swim saw her finish ninth.
Amy put in an excellent performance in the semi-final of the 100m freestyle to qualify for the final as 10th fastest qualifier and she topped that by finishing eighth in the final.
Callum was in fine form, qualifying for the semi-finals of the 100m freestyle. Up against Scotland’s top sprinters, the 17-year-old did well to finish 20th.
Sarah Williamson and Megan were both competing in the age group event in the 200m breaststroke and both girls swam just outside their PBs.
On Friday Andrea struggled to find her form of late in the heats of the 100m breaststroke but she managed to qualify for the semi-final. Amy and Andrea took part in the 50m freestyle heats and Amy made it into the semi-final.
Callum produced a good swim in the 100m butterfly just outside his best. His time equalled that of another swimmer and so he had a swim-off to see who would be the reserve for the semi-finals. This time he improved his PB.
In the semi-final of the 100m breaststroke Andrea failed to qualify for the final.
Possibly the best performance of the day came from Amy in the semi-final of the 50m freestyle, lining up against some of Britain’s best sprinters, where she produced a PB to qualify for Saturday’s final.
Sarah and Megan swam the 100m breaststroke. Megan swam well but it was 13 year-old Sarah who reached the final, where she finished 8th. Megan also swam in the age group event in the 200m IM, getting a PB.
On Saturday Callum lined up in the heats of the 50m freestyle. His best swim of the week saw him break his own Shetland record to qualify for the semi-final. Megan swam the 100m freestyle and achieved a PB.
In the semi-final Callum broke the Shetland record for the second time in 10 hours, but this was not quite fast enough to make the final.
First-timer Donnie Price, 13, from South Mainland, swam nine events over four days in the boys 16-and-under age group and got PBs in all but two races.
As well as improving times in nearly all his swims Donnie moved up the rankings from his seeded position in the heats. A two-second improvement in his 200m freestyle and a time of 2.09.29 placed him in the top third of the field of 125 competitors.
In the 200m IM, with over 100 competitors, Donnie again took off over two seconds and leapt up 30 places to finish in the top half. His highest finishing position in the age group events was 31st out of 74 in the 200m breaststroke with a four-second PB of 2.50.83.
Donnie also qualified for one open event as the youngest competitor in the 1,500m freestyle. Using experience gained in recent months, he swam the second half of the race faster than the first half, finishing with a strong final 100m and cutting eight seconds off his PB with 17.47.23.