The thirty-ninth Junior Championships for sensory impaired and physically disabled swimmers organised by Scottish Disability Sport took place at Grangemouth Sports Complex – the venue for these championships for over twenty years now.
The Junior Championships have witnessed memorable contests over the years between emerging and established Scottish swimmers and this year was no different. Twelve Championship Records were broken on the day by four different swimmers and the quality of swims throughout the day was of a very high level.
Academy athlete Oliver Carter (Fife) impressed hugely in attaining five golds and three CRs in 100m Freestyle, 50m Butterfly & 100m IM, ahead of Kyle Hughes (West of Scotland).
Fellow Academy Athletes Beth Johnston (Borders) enjoyed some fine battles with Cara Smyth (Fife) yet proved to be the dominant swimmer of the day by claiming four new CRs – many of them twenty year old records – with only the 50m Butterfly CR eluding her this year. This was enough to ensure that Beth was awarded the “Best Girl” trophy for 2016.
The continued progress from the West of Scotland’s McCulloch brothers is evident as the improved times from both each year demonstrates the strides they have made. Indeed, Fraser McCulloch won the “Best Boy” title in 2015 and it was even more keenly contested this year with his brother Lewis and Ollie Carter all in contention for the award right up until the final race of the day. Ultimately though, Lewis McCulloch – with four CRs to his name – secured the title thanks to a storming 100m Freestyle victory.
SDS, its member Branches and Regional Networks are focused on encouraging more children and young people with a physical, sensory or learning disability to learn to swim, join a club or session and potentially follow in the footsteps of Scotland’s great Para-sports swimmers. Scotland has a wonderful track record of producing outstanding international swimmers and long may this continue. It was hugely encouraging to see 18 new swimmers competing at this championships. There is however still scope to increase the number of participants so our branches and regional team will continue to work hard to identify and develop swimmers along the pathway and attendance at events such as this provides impetus for further progression.
We now begin to look forward to the 40th edition of these championships in 2017.
SDS Opportunities & Events Manager