SALTCOATS swimmer Rachel McGuire helped the North Ayrshire team to punch above their weight as she claimed a silver medal at the West District Junior Age Group Championships in Glasgow.

The 12-year-old took second place in the 100m fly at Tollcross - setting new Personal Bests in both her heat and the final, drawing praise from Junior Coach, Alan Dickson.

He said: Although it’s still early in the season there was some hard racing and it was good to see many of the kids getting into finals and even winning medals. Rachel took on board my pre-race briefing nailed it in terms of executing her skills.

“I was really pleased with how many of those finalists managed to improve their times again which is down to the process: making sure they’re in the frame of mind to swim a final, that they swim down after finishing their heat and warm up again before the race.”

Rachel also took 10 seconds off her 400m freestyle on the Sunday for a sixth place finish and made the finals of the 100m breaststroke, going faster in both swims.

Nathan Hughes, from Saltcoats, led the way for the boys with top 10 finishes across the weekend.

The 13-year-old made his mark on the Sunday, winning a place in the final of the 100m breaststroke, taking three and a half seconds off his entry time and shaving off even more in the final.

“Nathan has come on in leaps and bounds these last few months,” said Alan. “We’d talked about his turns ahead of the final and he executed that plan, keeping them much tighter.”

Head Coach Jess Wilkie, was also on poolside for the Sunday and commented: “It was good to spend some time with the swimmers and talk through their race strategies and see if they could execute them.

“We tried to give the swimmers constructive feedback based on what they thought about their races and how they felt during their swims - identifying the aspects they thought they’d done well or not - and trying to get them to come up with solutions and how to fix it.

“It’s about facilitating their thought processes, rather than just giving them all the information, and getting them thinking a little bit more.”

Alan Dickson had praise for 11-year-old Ella Bruce, also from Saltcoats, who's in her first season competing at West District level.

“Ella swam really well,” he said, “and even though she was disqualified in the 200m IM it was a really nice swim with lots of aspects which pleased me.

“It’s a reminder to everyone that at West Districts you can expect to be picked up on the things that you might get away with at a graded meet, and I’m sure Ella won’t make that mistake again. I take it as a positive and a valuable learning opportunity.”

Heather Stuart, from Dalry, sliced 12 seconds off her entry time in the 400m freestyle on the Sunday having PB’d the 200m backstroke by six seconds on the first day.

Ardrossan’s Beth Hill beat her entry in the 100m fly while Stevenston’s Scott Kean was on form in the freestyle, beating his times in the 100m and 400m, as well as going under his 200m backstroke on Sunday.

The focus of the training in the next few weeks will be on preparing the swimmers to peak for the pre-Christmas meet at Warrender, in Glenrothes. Then in the early weeks of 2019 the team will be heading back to Tollcross for the West District Long Course Championships.