Sliabh Beagh ASC at the Swim Ireland Division 1 and Summer Open Championship

This gala was held in the National Aquatic Centre from the 20 July to the 24 July 2016 inclusive. Seventeen club swimmers qualified and competed in this premier swimming event of the National calendar. To get a qualifying time is an achievement. To go there and produce a PB, get to a final or even pick up a medal, are all considered to be success.

Our squad of swimmers went into this event having prepared well, through training, minor competitions, some 50m pool experience, some gym work and having attended a mini camp. When the gala concluded we had collected 3 medals, were in 10 finals and had picked up numerous PB’s, some small some large.

Bronze medals were won by Claragh McGahon in the 200m Butterfly and 1,500m freestyle events. Alannah Leonard won bronze too in the 100m Backstroke event. Both these swimmers performed very well at the competition and indeed probably had other opportunities to add to their haul, if little things had gone better for them.

Those making finals and getting PB’s were Colin Gorman (100 Breaststroke, 200 Breaststroke and 200 Butterfly), Shauna McGahon (200 Fly), Claragh McGahon (100 Fly) Alannah Leonard (200 Backstroke).

Producing PB’s we had Emer Sheridan, Jamie Sheridan, Peter O’Hara, Leon Campbell, John Donnolly, Megan McShane, Lorcan Roberts, Cillian McGahon, Caoimhe Leonard and Kyle McKenna. Nathan Shields was unable to compete on this occasion. Others giving their best were Conor Comiskey and Caragh Leonard, who both worked very hard, but were swimming out of their age group.

For the first time at this level we had 3 relay teams in the gala. The mixed team of Alannah Leonard, Shauna McGahon, Colin Gorman and Peter O’Hara swam very well in the 4 x 50 Free and IM Relay Races, finishing a very credible 8th out of 24 teams. The men’s Open 4 x 100 Free and Medley Relay team finished 5th out of 11 teams, setting a very good club records and surprising many of the “bigger” clubs in the process.

Overall the club on reflection is making progress, creeping into the big time. In the past we had two or three swimmers making it to this level of skill and competence. Now we are bringing many more through and this is very satisfying on one level. However we did leave the aquatic centre feeling a little disappointed, as we did not achieve the level of PB’s  we were hoping for. This failing is being reviewed and hopefully rectified this time next year.

Some swimmers had a dip in form from last year. While this is upsetting and needs to be addressed, it is a symptom of age group swimming (sport) and can only be addressed by skill improvement,  patience, determination and rebuilding confidence through modifications in the technical aspects of the strokes, honing better ‘feel’ for the water, improved kicking, turns etc and hitting the lactate target times, every swim. This is a challenge for swimmer and coach alike.

We wish all our swimmers, parents, club officials, coaches, committee and sponsors a happy Summer and enjoy the rest, lie ins and time to do other things.