Success For Sliabh Beagh at the Stuttgart International Swim Gala

*45 Individual medals           *5 relay medals:

 * 5 Course Records                * Finished 6th Team overall

Sliabh Beagh ASC took a step into international club competition on the 18th and 19th June 2016. We took 26 swimmers, coaches, team manager, support staff and supporters to the 41 Stuttgart International Swim Gala. There were 612 swimmers entered in this gala from all over Europe (Germany, France, Switzerland, Austria, England, Wales, Netherlands, Luxembourg, Russia, Latvia, Denmark and Turkey. There were also swimmers from India, Egypt and in all there were 3,621 entries from the 612 swimmers.

The swimmers could enter races in all five (5) FINA strokes. These are Freestyle, Backstroke, Breaststroke, Butterfly and Individual Medley. The races were over 50, 100 and 200 metres in all strokes.

So how did we fare? Well the answer is very, very well. Swimmers swam so well that they succeeded in producing PB’s for many, final places for a big number. Medals and trophies were in abundance. Of the 42 teams that took part in this competition Sliabh Beagh finished 6th overall. This was an amazing achievement, but most importantly from a swimming point of view, we swam technically well, competed and fought very well in all races and showed mental composure in managing the very different environment (unknown opponents and weather- the competition was held in an outdoor 50m pool).

With just over 600 swimmers, efficiency was the name of the game!  The Hy-tek timing system was in perfect running order, with a large screen for spectators to see the heat number, swimmer’s time and finish place.  The officials worked together seamlessly to ensure the gala ran smoothly and quickly.  Their efficiency started with having the swimmers on the blocks before the previous heat’s swimmers had even finished their race.  When the last swimmer touched the wall, the next heat was diving in.  Sliabh Beagh was quite proud of the fact that not a single swimmer missed their race, which given that this was all new to us, was a great accomplishment!

It is not very often that the club can enter relay teams in championship galas. On this occasion this was possible and it yielded good success and some fantastic swimming. The races were fast, competitive and very entertaining. The spirit within each team was great to witness. In the end we were the most successful club in relays and collected two championship trophies for the girls open team.

During the last couple of hours of the second day of the competition, swimmers from other teams started approaching our swimmers to exchange swim caps.  What a great collection of international swim-caps our kids now have! We were surprised to see some of the kids from other teams wearing our caps during the competition!  It gave everyone a sense of pride that the other teams wanted our team’s swim caps.

Our swimmers performed exceedingly well in this gala. We performed very well. We behaved very well. We made friends and contacts with many other swimmers, coaches, officials and parents during the gala. Our skills were evident, especially our underwater work and strong finishes. We hope that this gala will be a huge confidence builder for the forthcoming Division 1 Age Group and Summer Open in mid July.

Finally the coaches would like to congratulate all our swimmers on their performances.  We have still plenty of work to do to produce PB’s in July and make the podium. Well done everyone you have done your Country, Club and Parents proud!

The swimmers were:  Katie Bowden, Leon Campbell, James Campbell, Faolan Campbell, Connor Comiskey, Matthew Comiskey, John Donnelly, Colin Gorman, Allison Gorman, Alannah Leonard, Caoimhe Leonard, Caragh leonard, Emily Madden, Alannah Mc Gahon, Cillian Mc Gahon, Claragh Mc Gahon, Shauna Mc Gahon, Eimear Mc Kenna, Sheenagh mc Kenna, Megan Mc Shane. Deirdre O Harte, Peter O Hara, Cliona Sheridan, Emer Sheridan, Jamie Sheridan, Matthew Skeath.


Stuttgart – A Swimmer’s Perspective. By Emily Madden

“It’s what you do in the dark that puts you in the light”. I started reading Micheal Phelps’ biography on the plane on our way to Stuttgart for our international swimfest. It is truly inspiring and I don’t think I could have picked a better time to read it.
Most of the squad flew out on Wednesday, followed by myself, Jamie, Katie and Matthew on Thursday, and Leon, James and Sheenagh on Friday who were met by a round of applause by the team! On Friday morning we had a light training session in the 50m pool and then had time on the slides beside the pool to ourselves. I can definitely say that my inner child came out while we ran round the stairs and raced down the slides until we got cold and hungry! That called for another trip to Aldi to stock up on honey roasted nuts, some round biscuits (Megan’s favourite), and still water because we learned from the mistakes we made (i.e. the 54 litres of sparkling water we carried home the day before). After dinner, we had a short team meeting, phones were handed in and it was straight to bed to sleep, or at least that was what was intended! I continued to read Phelps’ book while others stayed up to all hours playing cards.
Everyone was well rested for Saturday morning and the nerves started to kick in. We walked as a team to the pool where we found a completely different atmosphere compared to the morning before. Over 600 competitors, 43 teams surrounded one 50m outdoor pool. It was a fantastic experience and a memory I will never forget. We competed and raced against international athletes with such a high standard of swimming that made me proud to be part of the Sliabh Beagh team. Saturday was a long but great day with us surviving storms and sun and coming away with loads of new PB’s! Back at the hotel we were met with so much pizza even we couldn’t finish it!
Sunday was a little bit more relaxed. We were used to the pool and how punctual the Germans were. So much so that the races ran 20 minutes ahead of schedule!! Everyone raced extremely well again on Sunday. We were definitely pictured out of it by the time six o’clock came! Smiles never left the faces of anyone no matter how sun burnt they were. I am so thankful to have spent this time with such good friends. We learned so much and took home memories we will never forget. I would like to thank all the coaches, parents and sponsors for making this fantastic trip happen.
To put Michael Phelps’ quote into perspective, it’s what we did in the dark of the autumn and winter mornings that put us in the light last weekend in Stuttgart and in the eyes of our families, friends and parishes. Chlorine might be our perfume but we wear it with pride along with the medals that hang around our necks!