Kara Hanlon’s stunning progress on the national swimming scene has earned her a prestigious place in the Scottish Swimming Gold Squad.
The Stornoway teenager recently posted Commonwealth Games standard qualifying times and narrowly missed out on selection.
But she is a huge part of the national swim scene where she has been identified as a growing talent and honoured with a place in the Gold Squad.
Ally Whike (Scottish Swimming’s Director of Performance) travelled to Stornoway to officially meet with Kara and welcome her to the squad.
He also spent time viewing the facilities in Stornoway and Lionel, and meeting with her support team – Coach DR Morrison and Kara’s parents, Davie and Marilyn.
Alongside Kara’s inclusion in the Gold Squad she will also become a full sportscotland Institute of Sport athlete. For the last 12 months Kara has been part of the Institute’s local Performance Development Programme, which provides a range of support in areas such as strength & conditioning, physio, mindset and nutrition.
Chris Hildrey, Highlands & Islands Institute Network Manager, who has been instrumental in developing a network of Performance Development Programmes across the Highlands and Islands, was also in attendance.
He said: “The sportscotland Institute of Sport are delighted to be supporting Kara now she is in the Scottish Swimming Gold Squad. The fantastic commitment shown by Kara, her family and coach over recent years has resulted in this well-deserved selection.
“We look forward to continuing to work in partnership with CnES and in particular the Leisure facilities to help Kara and other aspiring elite athletes within their local environment.”
Local Institute conditioning coach, Euan ‘Moley’ Macleod, has been involved in the programme since its commencement two years ago. Euan and Darren Beattie have been trained up to Institute level strength and conditioning coaches. Euan will work with Kara with support from Ally Whike and the Institute network.
Iain GG Campbell, CnES Sports Development Services Manager, said: “This is an exciting time for Kara and the coaching staff. It’s been an aspiration of our service for many years to be in a position where we could support an athlete locally at this level.
“The Institute have shown great confidence in our ability to achieve this. Although, by its nature, the programme will only benefit small numbers I fully expect Kara and the athletes currently involved in our local programme to inspire others to ‘be the best they can be’.”
He continued: “Although still in the early stages of development we plan to increase the number of athletes and sports covered in the future. Plans are also in place to expand the programme to the Uists on completion of the Community Sports Hub at Liniclate.”