Banbridge Amateur Swimming Club travelled to Bangor on Friday 6th June to challenge Coleraine and Larne.
It was going to be a close competition and all three teams were aiming to stay in the First Division of the Aquasprint Junior Swimming League.
Swimmers from as young as six, were going to compete and up to eleven years of age.
The team in 3rd position would be relegated to 2nd Division and no-one wanted that to happen.
The competitors were divided up into four age groups: A, B, C and D, with Group A being the youngest age group (up to age 8). Each age group had a team of girls and a team of boys. This included relay and individual swimmers which often overlapped.
The gala began with a Mixed Medley Relay from the A group, 2 girls and 2 boys. What an excellent start for Banbridge ASC as they won the first relay, thanks to Sarah McEvoy, Ronan Quinn, Isaac Forsythe and Niamh McGeown.( Medley relays always go in the order: backstroke, breaststroke, butterfly and freestyle).
Next, Group B swam, consisting of Sorcha Boersma, Rachel Blemmings, Niall McGeown and Peter Bigley. Coleraine, however won this relay followed by Larne.Group C swam into first position with strong performances from Dawson Patterson, Julia Knox, Zoe Kilpatrick and Ryan Bigley.Finally , we polished off the medley relays with super swimming from James Whan,Jessica Robinson, Becki Pinkerton and Patrick Doyle as they swam into first place. We started off with 3 relay wins out of 4 which put us in a strong position.
Normally at an Aquasprint Gala, 3 swimmers from each of 2 teams compete. However in a final as there are 3 teams, 2 swimmers out of each team, compete.
It is therefore up to coaches to select the fastest 2 swimmers in each event.
After the Medley Mixed Relay, individual backstroke events are swum for each group and for the girls then the boys, working up through the 4 groups: A, B, C and D.
Backstroke began with Group A girls, Sarah McEvoy and Katie McFarlan coming in 2nd and 6th. Group A boys, Jack Dougan and Isaac Forsythe swam furiously in 1st and 3rd places. Group B girls Sorcha Boersma and Rachel Blemmings brought in 4th and 6th places.
Group B boys, included, Peter Begley, who swam a tremendous event, coming in 1st and Taylor Hill who came in 6th.Group C girls had a tough swim but Julia Knox and Ruby McNiff secured excellent 2nd and 3rd places .Group C boys gave it their all with Dawson Patterson and Ryan Bigley achieving 4th and 5th.Group D girls, Becki Pinkerton and Ellie Wright were superb in their fight for glory. They achieved a fine 2nd and 3rd.Group D boys, James Whan and Patrick Doyle fought hard for 2nd and 6th.
The breaststroke swimmers took to the water next with a comfortable start from Group A, Sarah MvEvoy and Dia McCrory taking 3rd and 4th. Ronan Quinn pushed hard and gave an excellent performance, coming in 2nd and Jack Lennon came in 6th.Group B,Rachel Blemmings and Sorcha Boersma came in 5th and 6th. Breaststroke was proving to be a difficult one to win.
Then along came Group C Julia Knox,taking her first of several individual wins of the night followed in 3rd by Ruby McNiff.Evan Calvert and Ryan Bigley came in 5th and 6th. Group D girls put in a tough fight and managed to secure 4th and 5th (Jessica Robinson and Becki Pinkerton).
Group D boys finished off this event with a 2nd from Patrick Doyle and a 4th from James Whan.
The butterfly events seemed to take a better turn and this was much needed to stay in the First Division. (The team to come 3rd would be relegated to Second Division). Banbridge BASC has been in First Division for several years now so a fight was on our hands. Young girls Katie McFarlan and Niamh McGeown produced a fine 3rd and 5th. Isaac Forsythe and Ronan Quinn powered through the water to achieve a superb 1st and 2nd! Sorcha Boersma and Rachel Blemmings produced 3rd and 4th, striving hard.
Likewise, Group B boys achieved 3rd and 4th with excellent times from Ben Farson and Niall McGeown. Julia Knox was on top of her game with a first class performance and an excellent time.Zoe Kilpatrick gave her all and achieved a 4th.
Dawson Patterson and Evan Calvert secured 4th and 6th place.Ellie Wright and Becki Pinkerton swam great times coming in 4th and 5th. Finally in butterfly, James Whan swam a strong 2nd and Patrick Doyle came in 5th.
The freestyle individual event came next.Group A girls, Niamh McGeown and Sarah McEvoy gave great performances, coming in 3rd and 4th.The boys were ready for a challenge and Ronan Quinn swam his best time all year in freestyle and won this event, followed closely by Isaac Forsythe in 3rd.
Group B Sorcha Boersma and Rachel Blemmings achieved 3rd and 4th. Peter Bigley and Niall McGeown swam fast times and came in 4th and 5th. Group C girls Julia Knox and Ruby McNiff were on top form coming in 1st and 4th. Dawson Patterson and Ryan Bigley achieved 4th and 5th. Group D girls, Ellie Wright and Becki Pinkerton were giving it their all and achieved 2nd and 4th. Patrick Doyle and James Whan secured 2nd and 5th.
The final event of the night was the freestyle relay, with 2 girls and 2 boys in any order.
The brave 8 year olds took to the blocks knowing that relays were very important and every win was paramount. Sarah McEvoy began, followed by Niamh McGeown, Isaac Forsythe and finally Ronan Quinn who powered them home to victory.
It was a wonderful team effort and a pleasure to watch. Group B had a tougher time as Sorcha Boersma, Rachel Blemmings, Niall McGeown and Peter Bigley came in 3rd.
Their points were still vital. Group C composed of Dawson Patterson, Ryan Bigley, Ruby McNiff and Julia Knox also swam a thunderous race winning again for their team.
To complete the gala Banbridge also took the last relay race by storm as James Whan, Patrick, Becki Pinkerton and Ellie Wright won with ease.
Was it enough to secure our Position in First Division? YES, THANKFULLY. Due to the strong relay swimming, Banbridge came 2nd to Coleraine and Larne, unfortunately plummeted to 2nd Division.The final result was:
Coleraine 291 Banbridge 289 Larne 260
Banbridge were just 2 points below Coleraine but 29 ahead of Larne. We were safe.
At the end of the day the 2 points didn’t actually matter as earlier in the season we had beaten Coleraine. Often it is all about the night.
Banbridge swimmers came home with their silver medals, absolutely delighted and wishing Coleraine well.
Thanks as always to our fabulous team of swimmers and those I haven’t mentioned already:
Group A :Dia McCrory, Katie McComb,Noah Zaks, Peter McGrath, Group B: Jennifer Morrow, Kevina Burns, Elinor Bradley,Finlay Wright, Senan Carr, Group C:Aidin Quinn, Rachel Allenby, Daniel Brown and James McKee and Group D:Jami Wilson, Caitlin Kearney, Declan McGeown and Euan Campbell.
Thanks to all our coaches and timekeepers who are a mixture of parents of today’s swimmers and yesterday’s swimmers.
There are many devoted people who work in this club, you know yourselves who you are and thank you for your dedication throughout the 2013-2014 swimming season which has been a resounding success. Rest up over the summer and see you in September!