Progress in swimming is gauged by records and their rate of turnover spanning a given period of time.
The policy of the ASA through its Technical Committee and the co-operation of the authorities has been sound over the past years as more overseas competitions, an extensive programme of time-trials, better coaching regimes and the dedication of the swimmers representing more clubs have produced encouraging results.
This is borne by the fact that 50 per cent of all senior and junior individual records were set over the last 40 months, with 14 out of 34 new limits in the senior record lists and 46 out of 86 in junior ones.
There were also seven relay records during this period.
It is significant to point out that since 2013 the age-group swimmers are more prolific in this respect, having reached 53% to the seniors’ 41% of the listed races.
Reasons for this discrepancy are various. Mostly are due to the initial enthusiasm and sheer numbers of the younger swimmers which are ultimately outweighing the fading interest and other negative factors prevalent in the seniors ranks.
Every year there are several swimmers who go up the juniors’ ladder until they reach the senior category and eventually the national team.
We have had Raoul and Michael Stafrace, Matthew Galea, Gabriel Dimech and Julian Harding inserting their names in the national senior squads alongside our top swimmer Andrew Chetcuti and the UK-based Matthew Zammit.
In the women’s sector, new young faces have cropped up in the shape of Francesca Falzon Young, holder of nine age-group records, including a new Group D 200 free limit of 2:09.98 set during the Easter Meet, Kimberley Castelletti and Charis Ceccarelli.
These girls teamed up successfully with the evergreen swimmers, Nicola Muscat and Amy Micallef, in the senior ASA teams.
There are other young swimmers who could soon be knocking on the door of national representation. Jeremy Bugeja and Kyle Buhagiar, Kristina Fino and Andrea Bellia, all in the list of junior record-breakers since 2013, have sets their sights on more improvement.
With them and among the girls’ upcoming elite there are Mya Azzopardi (born 2002), holder of five junior marks, and Andria Friggieri. Both these younger swimmers have a bright future, confirming their talents when bettering the junior Group C limits in the 50 ’fly and 200 back respectively in 30.04 and 2:32.39 at the Easter Meet.
If the present rate of progress is maintained and those promoted to the senior ranks show the necessary resilience and dedication there are good prospects for more improvement. Furthermore, additional younger faces will have a ripple effect.
New national coach Artem Goncharenko, assisted by Francesca Paolella and club coaches, have high hopes of a brighter future for Maltese swimmers.
The swimming clan are well aware that they have to continue from here. More talented fledglings are needed for stronger foundations that have been laid in recent years.
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