DAY 1 Friday 2nd February 2018
The Spring Qualifying Gala was kicked off to a great start with the McGahons in the distance events which took part on Friday evening. Cillian was first to swim in the 800m Freestyle event. He attacked the race from early on, kept this pace throughout and finished very strong to produce an impressive time of 9.22.05. This earned him 1st place in his age category (14).
His sister Alannah decided to follow suit in her 1500m Freestyle event. It was Alannah’s first time competing at this distance, however this did not phase her. She paced herself superbly against a field of older contenders and was rewarded with a fantastic time of 21.07.52 and a gold medal in her age group (11).
The 60 second mark for the 100m Freestyle stands as a significant milestone in the development of any swimmer. It is a target chased by many a young swimmer in their career. On Sunday both Cillian and Faolan had 59 seconds in their sights. Up first was Cillian coming close at 1.00.63 and clinching gold in his age group. Then Faolan rose to the challenge. He went for it from the start, executed great turns and finished strong in a superb time of 58.45.
DAY 2 Saturday 3 Feb 2018
On day two Sliabh Beagh were represented by Matthew Skeath, Faolain Campbell, Rebecca Prim, Katie Bowden, and Darcy Walker. The coach poolside was Eamon O’Hara. Feedback was provided with praise, questions, points to work on and future challenges addressed with all swimmers.
The day started well will Matthew producing a huge PB in the 400 IM swim. His approach to the race was good with emphasis on maximising his strong strokes but retaining energy for the weaker ones. While there is much work to do, this was a very big step by Matthew. Matthew also nailed his 100Fly and 50 fly races. He learned that while the stroke is the same the way it is swam is very different. Nevertheless Matthew again produced 2 very good PBS and picked up a few medals too. His 100 Breaststroke, was his poorest performance, while still producing a small PB.
Faolain was on fire. His swims from dive to finishing touch were very proficient and effective. His 100 Fly was strong, long and we’ll timed. He needs work off the walls and the technique of the actual touch /turn needs some refinement. However this was a great swim for Faolain. The 100 Breaststroke was up next and in this race, Faolain did everything extremely well and it looked very comfortable. Excellent swim Faolain.
Rebecca Prim (from Munich in Germany) commenced her gala with the 200 IM event. This was brave for Rebecca, because she is still developing and modifying her 4 strokes. Nevertheless the very hard working Rebecca in training, swam very well,executing all strokes, under pressure very well technically. Her turns and transitions went very well and Rebecca returned a very good PB. In the 100 Freestyle, the race across all 8 lanes was very tight. Rebecca has been asked to modify her stroke rate recently and this was requested again by the coach. She was encouraged to try it and to keep it going, for a long as she could. Fatigue would impact but if she wanted to PB, this was the way. In a mass finish in her heat, Rebecca ame third by less than half a second. A super effort all the way by Rebecca. Her final event was the 50m Breaststroke. A strong kick, fast recovery and application of force throughout is key. Again Rebecca delivered. There was a smile from Lisburn to Munich last Saturday evening.
Katie Bowden was back in the pool after a long three week absence,due to illness. Katie had a busy day starting with the 200 IM. Here Katie was sensible and while keen to push it, she managed to hold back a bit, with the result, she swam a very good 200 IM, bringing in a small PB. The 200 was up next and again Katie managed her race very well. Here again she produced a PB zone swim and this gave her great confidence for the next race, the 100 free.
Katie swam this race with control, power and a very improved and even kick.A great swim and a PB to boot. Finally Katie had the 400 Free. This was a race Katie was nervous about due to her 3 weeks absence from training. No problem, Katie swam a great PB and into the bargain achieved an Ulster Championships qualifying time. Great effort Katie, now you are moving forward with goals.
Finally Darcy was in action. A busy girl too, with 3 events. In all swims Darcy was giving her heat challengers, a size, age and experience advantage. Darcy has only moved up to this level so patience all round is required. Darcy did many things very well, but needs to now really apply herself in training, on the technique, the pacing and turns actions. Darcy was a tiny bit unlucky because while she did not PB, she only missed by a fraction. This is OK and it will encourage her to fix the few problems and go again in a few months. Based on her skill level, if Darcy can improve her power and refine the small but very important points discussed, she will be rostrum material soon.
Day 3 Sunday 4th Feb
Faolan ended up with two more great swims on Sunday in the 50 back and the 400 free receiving a silver and bronze medal respectively in the 16 yr old age group. Cillian also clinched another medal in the 200 IM coming 2nd in the 14yr old age group.
Darcy also swam on Sunday and although she narrowly missed out on the medals she had two great swims in the 200 free and the 100 back against some very stiff competition.