Stornoway swimming’s golden girl

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Kara Hanlon continues to bask in the rosy glow of success after yet another hugely impressive run of results and personal bests at the North District Grand Prix.

The golden girl of Western Isles swimming is continuing to improve her times and leave older rivals, all of whom train in a pool double the size of which Kara trains in on Lewis, trailing in her slipstream eating foaming water.

The 17 year old Stornoway sensation kickstarted her weekend by hacking a massive FIVE Seconds of her 200m Individual Medley (IM) personal best by clocking a speedy 2.23.

And the day got better for Hanlon who leapt back into the water to qualify for the 200m breaststroke A final which took place just two races after the IM final. In the final she finished an impressive second with 2.30.

Competing so soon after an already gruelling race is a test of heart and character as much as lungs and leg-kick.

There were still two more races for Kara to compete in before she could hang up her goggles for the day as she chalked up yet another PB in the 50m breaststroke A final with 31.75 then finished the 100m freestyle in 1.01.

On Sunday Kara was back to business where she picked up where she left off – sending her personal best times crashing – with a new PB in 50m breast strike of 28.23, and a PB in the 200m freestyle of 2.15.

Two further swims brought another pair of PB’s with her 100m butterfly swim a creditable 1.09 and her 100m breaststroke final in which she finished third but won with a PB of 1.08.03.

In this final Kara’s finishing strength saw her sneak past the favourite Hannah Miley in a blur of foaming water at pace for her first ever 100M win over the Commonwealth medallist.

“I’ve never beaten Hannah in 100M before. I have in 50M but in 100M she is very strong so I was delighted. I was third in the pool and finished first so I was a bit shocked,” recalled a modest Hanlon.

The North District Grand Prix is the first in the three-series Scottish meets which also include east and west hosted in Inverness, Edinburgh and Aberdeen. Each meet will follow the same format with swimmers scoring points based on performance at each meet.

But coming so early in the swimming season Kara admits she was surprised to do so well and make so many dents in her already phenomenal personal best times.

“I really didn’t expect to do well,” she said.

“In the 100m breaststroke I did a PB the week before of 1:09:03 which I was really pleased with but then I took a second off it a week later at the North Districts when I clocked 1:08:03.

“I also earned PB’s in 200M breaststroke and 50M breaststroke where I won a silver medal too.”

Taking any time of a personal best at this level is impressive but hacking a whopping five seconds off any PB is remarkable.

“I took five seconds off my 200M IM PB from 2:28 down to 2:23. I think maybe I was really rubbish at it before,” she jokes.

“No to be honest I have been working really hard on all my strokes as well as trying to improve my breaststroke.

“My coach DR (Morrison) just keeps coming up with great ideas in training to make me faster and better. I don’t know how he does it but his training is brilliant and he constantly implements new things.”

Next on the horizon for the swimming ace are the Scottish Short Course Championships in Edinburgh on December 12.