NATIONAL records fell as East Lothian’s finest young swimmers enjoyed two successive weekends of competition in the lead-up to Christmas.

In a sport very hard hit by the pandemic, swimmers were delighted to compete once more.

Occasional time trials over preceding months had led to 16 swimmers of the composite East Lothian Swim Team (ELST, representing Haddington, Musselburgh and Tranent Amateur Swim Clubs) qualifying for multiple swims at the Scottish Winter Short Course (25-metre pool) meet at the Royal Commonwealth Pool in Edinburgh from December 10 to 12.

Although spectators were not allowed due to Covid-19 regulations, the event was livestreamed so that the young swimmers’ family support teams could watch at home.

Amid numerous individual highlights, Eilidh Armstrong, Lauren Clark, Luke Hornsey, Stefan Krawiec, Calum Peebles, Helen Stoddart and Louisa Stoddart all qualified for finals in several swims.

Louisa Stoddart won the youth final of the 100m butterfly, finishing so hard that she sustained a minor injury to her hand, but she nonetheless continued competing through the weekend.

Hornsey swam the furthest of any ELST competitor throughout the weekend across sprint and distance events, competing in both the 800m and 1,500m freestyle and picking up bronze in the latter, a remarkable achievement for a 15-year-old against swimmers many years older.

East Lothian Courier: Luke Hornsey secured bronze in the 1500m freestyle earlier this monthLuke Hornsey secured bronze in the 1500m freestyle earlier this month

Also aged 15, Krawiec continued his illustrious youth swimming career by making three ‘A’ finals, breaking the Scottish national age group record for the 100m freestyle in both his heat and the final (with a time of 50.15s) on the Friday.

He followed that up the next day by breaking another national age group record in the 100m individual medley with a time of 57.81s.

Particularly exciting for ELST was focusing on two meets at once, because the Edinburgh meet happened concurrently with the British Para-Swimming Championships in Swansea, where Musselburgh’s Dylan Bleakley and Sam Downie competed in multiple events.

Downie continued his excellent form by picking up the silver medal in the 400m freestyle and the bronze medal in the 100m backstroke.

These fine successes set the scene for an outstanding team performance at the National League Finals at the Tollcross International Swimming Centre in Glasgow on Saturday.

This is a new annual competition organised by Scottish Swimming, the sport’s governing body, where two intense rounds of qualification had seen ELST’s ‘A team’ qualify in eighth place (out of 10) for the Division A finals (out of a total of 75 teams that entered qualification nationwide).

East Lothian Courier: East Lothian Swim Team's A Team enjoyed an incredible result at a new annual national competitionEast Lothian Swim Team's A Team enjoyed an incredible result at a new annual national competition

The ELST A team of 18 swimmers travelled to Tollcross and competed in a series of sprint events and relays.

Although spectating was not allowed once more, the livestream allowed for home viewing so relatives could share the atmosphere of the day.

ELST had a fantastic meet, finishing fourth in Division A behind the three largest swim programmes in the country (some with at least five times as many swimmers to choose from).

There was also a stunning achievement for the 4x50m freestyle relay quartet of Zach Slater, Luke Hornsey, Calum Peebles and Stefan Krawiec, who broke the longstanding Scottish Youth (17 and under) record in a time of 1m36.17s.

As no member of this quartet is older than 15, they have another two years to keep lowering this time and will be eagerly anticipating the relay events during the upcoming long course (50m pool) season.

Jamie Ward, ELST head coach, reflected on these outstanding individual and team performances, saying: “The results we have seen over the last two weekends have shown how resilient our swimmers have been over such a long period of disruption.

“To round off 2021 with such a strong set of results from our swimmers is a statement of intent as we approach what looks to be a more normal year of competing in 2022.

“Finishing fourth in the National League Finals was the perfect end to our year and a great experience for all involved, and a testament to the strength of our pathway and links with our home clubs in the county.”