Ulster LC Championships – Bangor

The following report by team manager Sylvia Gillis on the weekends swimming in Bangor.

“Twelve of Sliabh Beagh Swimmers qualified to compete at the Ulster Long Course Championship at the weekend this was an amazing achievement and all had a super weekend of swimming.
The youngest qualifier was Owen Fitzpatrick had a sublime meet starting off his swims with a 100 Backstroke where he finished 2nd  in the heat to earn his spot in the final.  Next was the 200 Freestyle and he was making sure he made the finals in this and he didn’t give up he placed 3rd  so another final for him that afternoon. That afternoon he was ready and feeling confident and even though he had some fierce competition from Bangor and Limavady, Owen didn’t disappoint placing 1st  place and winning gold in the
100 Backstroke in a PB time of 1.18.08.  A great race and win for him, he then went into the 200 Freestyle final which was equally tough he fought for his place and wasn’t coming home empty-handed Owen finished in 3rd  place with a well-earned and truly deserved bronze medal.  Owen returned on Sunday after celebrating his Confirmation on Saturday, with the 200 Backstroke which is a very tough swim.  With impressive skill and composure, Owen made it look easy as he strolled in 1st  place in the heats so back to the finals for him. Moving on to the 50 Freestyle he came in 4th  to earn his place in the finals. In the Finals, with the 200 Backstroke up first we could see a lot of the kids were out to beat Owen.  Just like in the heats Owen focused on his skill, composure and skill and romped home in a fantastic demonstration of backstroke swimming placing 1st and the Gold in the U12 final in another impressive PB time of 2.48.61 and nearly 14 seconds ahead of his nearest competitor. In the 50 Free things were much tighter and this was a much harder final and not long after the 200 Backstroke.  Swimming his heart out, Owen swam his best 50 Freestyle and just outside the medals and came away with a well earned 4th  place.  This was an amazing first Ulster Age-Groups for Owen as he came away with 4 personal best times and three Qualifying times and one Consideration time for Irish Summer National Age-Groups were he will compete in Limerick against all top swimmers across the four Irish Provinces.

In the Boys 13-14 age-group, Ridas Zelvys was also competing at this level of competition for the first time.  Ridas’ first swim was the 200 Breast stroke and didn’t disappoint with a fantastic 4.68 PB and finished in the top 20.  In his second event the 200Free, Ridas again showed great determination placing in the top 20 in that age group  on Saturday in his third & last event the 100 Breaststroke, Ridas shaved another 3 seconds off his best time and in doing so achieved a consideration time for the Irish Summer National Age-Groups nationals in Limerick – well done Ridas!

Riya George was another one of our younger 13-14 swimmers was Riya George who was competing at this level for the first time. Her aim was to come home with a personal best in at least one of her three swims, which she duly did in the 100 Butterfly and finished 17th , in the 200 Freestyle Riya cut over three seconds of her personal best & in the 100 Freestyle on Sunday she had a stormer in the 100 Freestyle dropping another three seconds in the event as well as earning a consideration time for Irish Summer National Age-Groups nationals in Limerick, super stuff Riya!

Completing the Sliabh Beagh 13-14 group swimmers, Justas Jarusas had a solid meet placing 15th in the 100 Backstroke. In the 200 IM shortly Justas had a very controlled swim achieving a PB of over three seconds and a Consideration time for Irish Age-Groups in July. In the 100 Free, Justas went into the race with great with confidence and again came away with another one second PB as well as a Consideration time for the Irish Age-Groups. On the last day, Justas finished of his Ulster’s with a 14th place finish in the 200 Backstroke. This was a good weekend for Justas as he now has 1 QT and 3 CT for Summer Nationals well done Justas!

In our 15 and over age-groups, Sean Greenan was competing in the 15-16 age-group and raced to impressive PB’s in 200 Breaststroke, 200 Individual, 50 Free and 400 Freestyle with automatic qualification times for the Irish Summer Nationals & in his fifth swim the 800 Freestyle, Sean showed great determination to finish a very creditable 4th place overall in the age-group having had to swim in the lower heat and set his own pace in order to be competitive. This was a brilliant weekend of swimming for Sean and a very productive one with five QT’s achieved for Irish Summer Nationals in Dublin at the end of July, great work Sean.

In the female 15-16 age-group, Katherine Ryan was competing in the three Breaststroke events, achieving a lifetime’s best in the 100 Breaststroke by 0.81 and was 12th /2nd  reserve for finals, and
repeated the same result in the 50 Breaststroke 12th /2nd reserve again, and then in the 200 Breaststroke, Katherine had a cracking swim finishing 12th /2nd reserve again, but in doing so took over 3 seconds off her best time.  With her performances in the 100 and 200, she joins Sean and has qualified for Irish Summer Nationals in Dublin at the end of July, well done Katherine.

In the Boys 15-16, Edvardas Zumaras was competing at his first regional Championships. Competing in four events, Edvardas achieved impressive PB’s in the 100 Backstroke and 200 Freestyle on Day One and consideration times for the Irish Summer Nationals. On Day Three of the meet, he set more lifetime best times in the 200 Backstroke, finishing 11th and first reserve for the final.  In the 100 Butterfly, he did another personal best by half a second and brought to a close a very progressive meet for Edvardas.   The last Sliabh Beagh competitor in the 15-16 age-group was Kristupas Januskevic. Competing in only one event the 50 Freestyle, Kris had a brilliant swim swimming over a one second PB in a new best time of 28.55 placing 18th overall and also achieved a qualification time for the Irish Summer Nationals –well done Kris!

The clubs most experienced swimmers were competing in the 17+ age-group and all had excellent Ulster’s.  In the Girls, Aoibhin MacCinna finished 10th in the 100 Backstroke, 15th in the Backstroke and 23rd in the 50 Freestyle. In the 100 Fly final, Aiobhin had a sublime swim finishing 5th and in a PB time by just over 2 seconds and while she was just outside her PB in the 100 Freestyle, she had a excellent swim in the 200 Backstroke finishing 5th in the final. With this very positive finish to the meet for Aiobhin has achieved several consideration times for the Irish Summer Nationals and will look to turn them into qualification times at the next long course meet.  Rebekah Gillis, made finals in the 100 Breaststroke (9th ), 100 Backstroke (10th ), 50Breaststroke (7th ) & 50
Butterfly (9th ) in excellent PB’s with the last two and capped it off with roaring 100 Freestyle heat swim of 1.05.79 which was a 2.5 second drop.  With a 11th place finish in the 50 Backstroke, Rebekah
achieved six Irish Summer Nationals from six and had a great weekends swimming – nice work Beka!

In the Boys 17+ age-group, Darragh Hughes had a solid 50 Butterfly finishing 9th in the heats and them had a fantastic 200IM winning Gold and 1st place in a PB time of 2.21.25.  On Day 2 Darragh finished 5th in the 100 Breaststroke in a highly contested event and was top 20 finisher in the 100 Freestyle.  On Day 3, his 50 Breaststroke was again a very strong swim and finish a very creditable 6th place and just outside his best time set 3 weeks earlier at the Irish Open and conclude another very positive cycle of racing for the young man.  The last competing SB swimmer at this year Ulster was Adam Lynch. Adam had a very good meet finishing 6th in the 50 Butterfly on Day 1 in a PB time of 26.64, placed 5th in the 200 Freestyle in another excellent PB, finished 5th in the 200 Butterfly and just outside his best and on Day 3 put in a courageous performance in the 100 Butterfly finishing 7th overall in a PB time and bringing to a close another excellent meet for him with 5 Irish Summer National cuts under his belt.

That concluded the weekends swimming for everyone associated with Sliabh Beagh ASC.  The club is very proud of each and every swimmer and all their endeavors and achievements whilst competing at this exceptional high level of competition.

We would like to sincerely thank all the travelling parents who were fantastic in their support for the swimmers, the team staff & the competition as a whole, in ensuring as a club we did our part. And lastly, a special note in appreciation to Lead Team Manager, Sylvia Gillis and Head Coach Pearse McGuigan for keeping the team motivated and moving in the right direction with high levels of expectations and standards, so that swimmers could be competitive at this level of competition when it really matters.”