WITH the new season of competitive team swimming just kicking off the youngest Banbridge ASC squad were away to Ards on Friday January 28 to compete in the new look Forest Feast AquaSprint Junior Swimming League.
A team of eager young competitors, aged 7-11, led by team captains Jodi Doyle and Patrick McNiff, and supported by a host of coaches, club officials and parents, made the journey to Newtownards for the first gala of the season. Competing for the second season in the elite section 1 the swimmers expected strong competition and high levels of excitement throughout.
The gala commenced with the youngest Group A swimmers taking to the water in the Medley Team Relay with Lois Lyttle, Caitlin Kearney, James Whan and Patrick Doyle swimming an outstanding race to steal a win for the visiting side much to the delight of the Banbridge supporters. Despite their best efforts groups B,C and D were beaten by the home side but the time difference was marginal leaving Banbridge swimmers optimistic for some excellent individual swims.
Group A girls were first to take to the water for 25m backstroke with Lois Lyttle flying up the pool to take first place closely followed by Aqua Sprint newcomer Anna Long in an outstanding second place.
James Whan and Patrick Doyle swam well, to secure second and fourth place points, for group A boys. Group B girls squad newcomer Sophie Mount and Charlotte Farson and B boys Harry Farson and Rory McNiff were outpaced by the home side and had to settle for third and fourth. In group C Olivia Knox started well and maintained first place position throughout with Charlotte Campbell in fourth place while Alex Donnelly was second for group C boys with Aaron Brown in fourth.
Team captain Jodi Doyle had an impressive win for group D girls with Elli Robinson in fourth and Joel Milligan finished by securing second place points for Group D boys with Ross Johnston in third.
With the event moving quickly and the noise levels increasing Group A girls were back in the water for 25m breaststroke with Caitlin Kearney this time securing the win for Banbridge and Lois Lyttle in second with Patrick Doyle swimming strongly to take first place with James Whan in third.
In Group B squad newcomer Helen Sinton and Eimear McMullan looked competent in third and fourth place while Daniel Kilpatrick and Harry Dougan stormed home taking first and second place for Group B boys.
In Group C Olivia Knox had to settle for second place with Emma McElderry in fourth while Alex Donnelly set his sights on a win for Banbridge with Eunan Quinn in third. Swimming her favourite stroke, Jodi Doyle gave a text book breaststroke performance to take first place and Joel Milligan finished the event in second place with Michael Rafferty having an excellent swim in fourth.
With AquaSprint at the halfway mark Group A girls were back on the blocks with a very young Julia Knox taking second place in 25m butterfly followed by Caitlin Kearney in fourth with James Whan and Patrick Doyle having the same result for the boys. In Group B Sophie Mount and Eimear McMullen secured third and fourth while Thomas Hall had to settle for second place with Harry Farson in fourth.
In Group C Olivia Knox swam a stunning race to secure first place with Emma McElderry in fourth and Alex Donnelly and Matthew Brown were third and fourth. In Group D Jodi Doyle was slightly outpaced in second place with Elli Robinson in fourth but Joel Milligan completed the 25M Butterfly event with a faultless swim to take a very comfortable win with Caolan Quinn in fourth.
The last of the individual events 25m freestyle started well with Lois Lyttle securing a speedy win and Caitlin Kearney in second as was James Whan for Group A Boys with Patrick Doyle in fourth. In group B Charlotte Farson and Eimear McMullen were third and fourth while Harry Farson and Daniel Kilpatrick were 2nd and fourth for the boys.
In group C Olivia Knox had another fantastic win followed by Charlotte Campbell in fourth while Alex Donnelly and Max Lyttle finished in second and third for group C boys. Girls team Captain Jodi Doyle took to the blocks for her last individual swim and made it count with another outstanding win while Joel Milligan and Caolan Quinn brought the individual events to a close with second and fourth place for the visiting team.
The very first Forest Feast AquaSprint event of the Banbridge season was brought to an end with dynamic Group A securing a valuable win in the Freestyle Team relay with Groups B,C and D finishing second to the home side.
The final score of 179 points to Banbridge vs. 221 points to Ards was very commendable with the Banbridge coaches delighted with the performance, potential and team spirit displayed by their young squad. Special congratulations to new squad members; Anna Long, Luke Milligan, Sophie Mount, Helen Sinton, Jade Copas, Harry Dougan, Ellie Purdy, Aaron Brown and Joel Milligan, many of whom overcame first gala nerves and swam so well.
With little time to rest and relax the AquaSprint squad will be back in action on Saturday February 5 away to Templemore ASC at the Robinson Centre, Belfast.
For more information visit our website on www.banbridgeasc.co.uk or the Forest Feast AquaSprint website on www.aquasprint.com.