SWIMMING: TWO swimmers, already topnotch county and regional achievers, have found a helping hand to raise their performances to national standard.
And a couple of coaches are being aided with their efforts to teach at a higher level.
All four are from Halton Swimming Club and have picked up a sports bursary grant from Halton Borough Council.
Stephanie Mahoney, 17, and 14-year-old Lucy have already won Cheshire and Northern Counties titles.
They are now hunting places in August's British Championships.
Brian Higgins, head coach of Halton SC, said: 'Both are within half a second of qualifying times for the British Championships.
'But the times they need can only be achieved in what they call designated meets.
'These include the county championships, starting in March, and then the regional championships in May and June.'
Both swimmers reached two A finals at last year's Irish Nationals in Belfast.
Stephanie was a finalist at 100m backstroke and 50m butterfly and Lucy in the 100m freestyle and 50m butterfly.
Already this year, Lucy has been one of the stars of the Liverpool & District Championships.
She won the age-group and championship titles at 100m free-style and 200m medley.
'They have been awarded the bursary to see if they can move last year's results up to national level,' added the Halton head coach.
Stephanie received £500 while Lucy was awarded £300 as were the two other club members.
Catherine Higgins, the head coach's daughter, and Glyn Bell-field are working towards the ASA teacher award - both already hold assistant teacher's qualifications.
Brian Higgins explained: 'As a club, we are doing the ASA's Swim 21 development programme and to achieve the criteria you have to show your coaches are qualified to a certain level.'
Catherine and Glyn are heavily involved in the club's activities.
They coach at training sessions twice a week, travel with the junior teams and were in charge of last
year's Echo Cup final team and Liverpool & District Tadpole League squad.
'They are doing the ASA teach-er's award course in Speke and have to supply evidence of 15 hours coaching with a swimming club,' added the head coach.
'The course is running over six weekends and involves theory and poolside exams.