Most athletes tend to chalk up personal bests at the start of a new season before easing their foot off the gas at the end of a long and tiring campaign.
But Stornoway’s swimming superstar Kara Hanlon is an athlete hellbent on working as hard as she possibly can, all of the time, and she is reaping the rewards as a result. This week, on her final competition of the season, the teenager hacked a handful of her best times to pieces and landed a bronze medal at the British Championships to boot.
Each of her new times were hugely impressive but her new 200m breaststroke time of 2:33:23 – set in the final at the British – is almost three seconds faster than a PB she only set at the end of June; which shows what a remarkable new pace she has set in just six weeks.
“I don’t really know how this happened,” admitted Kara, “especially as the 200m is not normally one of my strongest events. I did feel it was quite quick when I was swimming but I didn’t realise just how fast my time was.
“I had only set a PB of 2:36 at the Scottish National age groups at the end of June so it’s quite a big difference.”
The British Gas ASA National Championships took place in Sheffield last weekend with Kara taking to the water in the 50m breaststroke open age group and the 100m and 200m breaststroke age 17-18 years.
In each Kara surpassed even her own lofty expectations to set new PB’s and raise the benchmark ahead of next season.
She explained: “I was ninth in the open age group 50m but I set a new PB of 32:6 so I was pretty happy with that. Then in the 100m I finished fifth and took my PB down from 1:11:28 to 1:11:02.
“For the 200m I swam a PB in the heat of 2:35, in the semi final I beat it again with a swim of 2:33.8 before taking it down even more for the final with 2:33.23. That earned me third place and a bronze medal.”
After a long swim season the teenager now has two-weeks off before training begins again ahead of the new campaign hitting the water in November.
She added: “It is good to finish the season on a high with a medal at the British as it has been an event I haven’t done really well at in the past. It is big boost to me and it is a motivation to train even harder.
“I have so much to keep working hard for starting with the Island Games which will be in Jersey next year, so that is a definite target and something I will be working hard to try and get involved with.”
Kara would like to thank the following for their continued support: The Lewis and Harris Sports Council for financial support; Tony Wade and his staff at the Sports Centre; Celtic Clothing for time off from work; all the local businesses who support her; DR for his continued coaching and motivation; Euan Macleod for strength and conditioning training; local councillors and her parents for their ongoing support.