Mercat Gait Swimming Pool, Prestonpans, East Lothian
The annual Lothian Disability Sport Autumn swim gala attracted 88 swimmers to East Lothian on Saturday 24th September, with clubs, teams and individuals travelling from all over the region and further afield aiming to record PBs or experience their first competitive meet.
This year’s gala introduced a new format following previous feedback from clubs and coaches, with all 25m races being held in the morning session of the event, providing a relaxed environment for new swimmers to experience the sport while being supported and encouraged throughout. This introduction is crucial for new swimmers and provides an excellent first experience and hopefully encourages further engagement going forward. The afternoon session then allowed more experienced swimmers an opportunity to log personal bests and race against their peers in 50m, 75m and 100m distances.
The healthy entry is a reflection of the undoubted hard work that local clubs are putting in on a weekly basis and credit must go to all coaches who are providing the swimmers with a platform to develop and improve in the pool. Local entrants included Lothian Racers, Loanhead Swim Team, Lothian Waves, Livingston & District Dolphins, Musselburgh Flyers and Mercat Greats but also welcomed swim clubs from other regions across the country including Arion (Stirling) and Borders Barracudas (Scottish Borders). Individual swimmers, Christian Buchanan (East Lothian Swim Team), Mairin Savage (Stirling Swim) and Jill Hendry (Stirling Swimming) were also present to represent their respective clubs and regions. In addition to the new format, the gala also re-introduced 4x25m relay races and these team events proved a welcome end to the day with 11 teams entered and generating the loudest cheers of the day. This addition provides experience for swimmers, particularly individuals who will be competing at the Special Olympic National Games in Sheffield next year and may not have many opportunities other than these local events.
The LDS autumn swim gala historically awards the Mark Headden Memorial Trophy to the most improved swimmer for the year and takes into account a number of factors including level of commitment, obstacles overcome and competition success. Jamie O’Boyle of Lothian Racers was the deserving recipient of this year’s award having significantly improved his swimming over the last 12 months, showing true dedication and determination to overcome challenges and master the technicalities for all swimming strokes and continually giving 100% in the process.
Again, thanks must be extended to all officials, volunteers and time keepers who allow the gala run seamlessly from start to finish.