Our swimmers have been on dry land for many weeks at this stage and have missed many training sessions, early morning rises and many competitions at all levels. We’ve sadly also missed our team competitions; the PTL galas and Aquasprints, so swimming news is thin on the ground.
Thanks to a dedicated parent, Margaret Leonard, who kept a great archive and records from years ago, we have decided to go back in time and remember fondly a trip the Club embarked on back in 1998.
On the 5th November 1998, when most of our current swimmers were not even born, twenty- three swimmers and some parents/coaches left Ireland for a trip to Geel in Belgium and a day
trip to Xanten in Germany. Xanten is a Roman town north of the Alps and two hours’ drive from Geel.
The link between these places and Monaghan is interesting; St Dympna was born in Tydavnet, Co.Monaghan, she died in Geel and the people from Xanten went to Geel to rob her remains!
The group comprised of swimmers: Eugene Rafferty, Christina McAree, Maria McCrarren, Damien Connolly, Aoife Lillis, Claire McAree, Patrick McKenna, David Wheatley, Siobhan Moyna, Sarah O’Hara, Fintan Lillis, Paul Murray, Mairead Kerr, Hugh Moyna, Patricia Moyna, James O’Hara, Shane Connolly, Mark Beggan, Simon McMahon, David McGettigan, Sinead Leonard, Peter O’Hara, Cathy McCrarren, Kevin Leonard.
Adults and Coaches who accompanied the swimmers were: Betty McKenna, Francie McMahon, John James McKenna, Eamon O’Hara, Fergal Connolly, Ita O’Hara, Helen McCrarren (Chairperson), Margaret Leonard (PRO), Kathleen Rafferty
The group enjoyed the local cultural sites; they visited Waterloo, had a tour of the city of Brussels, they went to the Early Roman Settlements in Xanten, Germany. The visit to Breendonk in Antwerp, a prisoner of war camp made everyone in the group aware of the Human Rights issues in camps like these.
The group were all staying with host families at the time and enjoyed sampling the local food and warm hospitality.
Of course, fun times were had as well as educational, with visits to ice skating rinks, skiing, Flemish games and a visit to Water World in Holland. The 12-foot diving board in Germany that was visited gave both adults and the children a great thrill!
Just because our swimmers were on holiday didn’t mean they got to skip training, so training sessions were set up with GZK and GSZ swimming clubs and with a club in Xanten in Germany. There was a Gala organised to mark the trip with a competition between the four clubs and this was a real highlight of the trip. It took place in a 25m pool and the races were 100m distance which would have been a rare thing back then for our swimmers, though very normal nowadays. The swimmers in Geel swam out of their skins in the gala, some of them had never even swam 100m in a race before so it was a bit daunting for them, but they gave it their best shot. Many of them were delighted to receive personal best times at the gala. Isn’t it funny how things move on? The current Sliabh Beagh swimmers wouldn’t bat an eyelid at a 100m race, but it depends on what you’ve been used to, so this was a great learning experience for these swimmers back in 1998.
Afterwards there was a big celebration party where all the competitors were presented with a special T-Shirt with the EU flag on it along with the towns and countries of the Clubs involved. This was a special memoir of the trip and one which they could take home and wear with pride.
We hope our past swimmers enjoy reminiscing about the trip they took all those years ago. Maybe you’ve still got the T-Shirt! Maybe when we do get back to training in the pool, you’ll join us for our Masters’ training sessions. Once you know how to swim, you never forget!