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Five City of Glasgow Swim Team athletes made the journey to London for this prestigious event from 14-18 April. Normally a meet that would attract upwards of 800 swimmers, the current Covid restrictions limited to only the best circa 200 swimmers in Britain (100 men, 100 women) across all events. In addition, everyone had to live and remain in a strict ‘event bubble’ that meant swimmers, coaches and officials all had to stay in the same 3 hotels, take three Covid tests, eat only hotel food in their own rooms, and go only from the hotel to pool and back (no shops, no restaurants, no walks, no exercise!).

After a difficult season for everyone, it turned out to be a successful week for most. Aspiring junior swimmer Katie Shanahan led the way, achieving two excellent fourth place finishes after reaching the finals in her signature 200 and 400 Individual Medley events, including a personal best time and new Scottish Age Group record (16 years) of 2:13.90 in the shorter race and a time of 4:45.28 in the 400. Shanahan also contested the 100 Backstroke and 200 Breaststroke, finishing 14th and 18th respectively.

University of Strathclyde graduate Gregor Swinney had to wait five days for his single event, but made the most of it when the time came, recording a lifetime best of 55.18 in the heats of the 100 Butterfly. This qualified the fast improving Swinney for his first ever final at this level where he dropped further time, stopping the clock at an impressive 54.76 for seventh place. Fellow Strathclyde student Martin McInnes also had a good week, racing well in both his events. McInnes got off to a strong start on day one finishing 12th in the 400 Freestyle (4:05.42) and then after patiently waiting until the final day’s racing, recorded a career best swim of 1:54.30 for 22nd place in the fastest 200 Freestyle field ever assembled in Britain.

In his final year as a junior swimmer, 17-year-old Mark Ford continued his progress up the rankings with three quality swims in London. Ford put in solid efforts to set personal best times of 57.38 and 56.50 in the 100 Backstroke (top junior, 17th overall) and 100 Butterfly (3rd junior, 15th overall) respectively and followed this up with a well paced 200 Backstroke where he finished thirteenth and top junior in 2:07.15, exactly on his best time. Breaststroke specialist Max Hagan rounded out the week for COGST contesting the 100 and 200 distance of his favoured stroke. In the shorter race Hagan was less than half a second outside his personal best, swimming confidently to fourteenth place in 1:04.20, which he followed up with eleventh place in the longer event in a time of 2:24.21.

Congratulations to all five of these athletes and for even making the elite exemption list and then qualifying to this level and competing so well despite all the challenges and restrictions they’ve faced this past year due to Covid.