On the crest of a wave

Alysha McCracken.
Alysha McCracken.

Scotland’s fastest swimmer Alyshia McCracken has taken to her latest event like a duck to open water.

The member of Falkirk Integrated Regional Swim Team added open water events to the 400m, 800m and 1500m races she usually does - and has become the fastest female from Scotland as well as this country’s 10,000m champion.

And 15-year-old Alyshia was ninth - ahead of Olympic and World champion swimmers - at the Faros Maraton International in Croatia last month.

To secure her two trophies as the youngest swimmer home she covered 10 miles of the Adriatic Sea, and she’s now setting her sights on the representing Scotland again after success in Stari Grad Bay.

“I never thought it would lead to trophies like it has done, but I’d really love to represent my family, my club, Falkirk and Scotland at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow,” she told The Falkirk Herald.

“I do still swim indoor, in my usual freestyle events, but as soon as I started open water I knew it was something I would love.

“It’s a lot more strategic than racing in the pool and it’s not so much about your time as the conditions can affect each swim. It’s all about your placing and I was really pleased with ninth.”

She managed the 10 miles in just three hours and 37 minutes in the heat of the Croatian summer.

“It was so warm, and the salt water dehydrates you. The race suited me as it was in a pack and that’s how I prefer to swim when I’m out on the open water - I feel vulnerable when I’m on my own and in a pack you also swim faster.

“There’s more people to distract you from what could be swimming beneath you!”

A boat accompanies Alyshia with a coach onboard as a strategy guide and also for reassurance and text messages were relayed back to shore to mum Monique.

“Of course there’s a concern when she’s swimming so far away - 8,000m out and the same back,” she added “But we couldn’t quite believe when the updates came through and who was swimming behind her.

“She’s done extremely well and we’re very proud.”