Pupils from the Learning Centre at the Douglas Ewart High School recently took part in the National Junior Championships for swimmers with specific learning needs.
Along with other schools from Wigtownshire, they came away with some excellent results.
It all started in October, when the DG One Leisure Complex held the first swimming gala of this kind in Dumfries and Galloway. There was a tremendous response with a total of 93 entries from schools across the region.
Pupils faced fierce competition at district level to earn their place at the next stage, but many confidently overcame the challenges presented. Seven pupils from the DEHS won medals or qualified, and of the 25 swimmers from the region who progressed to the championships, 11 were from Wigtownshire. Preparations for Glasgow were kick-started immediately.
Scottish Disability Sport – sponsored by Nationwide – has been organising this opportunity for 35 years, and it is now celebrating its 50th anniversary. With the previous venue temporarily closed in the run-up to the Commonwealth Games, this is the second year running that the event has been held in Scotstoun Leisure Centre in Glasgow.
November 21 arrived quickly, but everyone was ready and raring to go. The setting was extremely impressive, with the centre kitted out as if it were an international tournament and the timekeepers wearing official uniform. As with all junior and senior swimming championships, participants were separated into different classes by the stopwatch. This is a system that SDS is particularly proud of.
The corner for the region was well occupied, and it quickly became obvious that the hard work and weekly training were paying off. In only the fifth event of the day Christopher Wicks came second, setting the DEHS off to an excellent start. In the end Christopher, Charlie Genty and Rachel Barr only narrowly missed out on medals at the nationals. However, it was clear that they all had a great day, and nobody could be disappointed with how they performed. There were five gold, two silver and four bronze medals in total for the region.
Motivated by the spectacle they had taken part in, a follow-up was organised in the form of a sponsored swim. The swimmers did either one mile or half a mile in the Merrick Leisure Centre pool to raise money for school funds.
Those involved, and people who knew the swimmers, were extremely proud of these achievements. Senga Thomson, Disability Sport development officer, said: “I would like to congratulate all the swimmers on their exceptional performances and would like to thank the local swimming teachers and coaches for all their hard work in preparing the swimmers and the carers and parents who helped assist on the day of the event.”
The gold medal winners were Jack Murray Bell from Dumfries HS in the 25m backcrawl, Morgan Deer from Annan Academy in the 25m backcrawl, Jessica Lamont from Max High in the 25m breaststroke, Dion McGuire from Stranraer Academy in the 25m butterfly and Craig McClymont from Rephad Primary in the 25m freestyle. Silver medals went to both Harry Davidson and Amy Marshall from Max High in the 25m backcrawl, and bronze medals were won by Josh Angus from Annan Academy in 25m backcrawl, Rhys Handleigh from Dumfries HS in the 50m backcrawl, Amy Marshall from Max High in the 25m freestyle and Dion McGuire from Stranraer Academy in the 50m freestyle.
Other members of the team included David Finch and Andrew Toal from Stranraer Academy, Iain Wylie of Kirkcudbright Academy and Ryan McKie from Penninghame Primary.