IT has been a long time since August and the start of the swimming season, but since then everything has been geared towards achieving qualifying times for Irish Age Group Championships in both Division 2 and Division 1.
Sixteen swimmers from Banbridge ASC were focused on this goal and travelled to the University Arena at Limerick last weekend all fired up and ready to give their all.
The results of their efforts were astounding with 21 individual medals coming home, including nine gold, six silver and six bronze.
In addition to this the 12 and under girls relay team brought home gold in their medley relay, and silver in their freestyle relay.
Furthermore, the 13-14 year old girls stormed home with gold medals in both their relays!
An amazing number of 42 final swims were swum by the Banbridge swimmers over the gruelling three-day event, putting them clearly on the radar of all the competition, confidently positioning Banbridge ASC as a leading player at Ulster and Irish level.
The first event of the meet was the boys 400 freestyle. Alex Donnelly finished 10th in the 12 and under category, Caolan Quinn fifth in the 13 year old group and Scott Donnelly fourth in the 15 year old group with times of 5.32.94, 5.18.78 and 4.55.46 respectively.
The first event for the girls was the 200 fly, with Jane Kilpatrick and Abbie McCullough fighting it out. Both girls received well deserved medals with Jane winning silver in 2.55.15 and Abbie taking bronze in 2.58.09.
Not to be outdone by the girls, Joel Milligan won gold in his 200 fly for the 13 year old boys in a time of 2.47.96 whilst Harry Farson claimed bronze in the 12 and under group with a time of 3.04.32.
In the 12 and under 100 back stroke both Ellie Robinson and Olivia Knox made finals, Olivia winning bronze in 1.19.59 and Ellie finishing 6th in 1.20.41.
In the 13 year old group Abbie McCullough and Georgia Davies both made finals, Abbie claiming bronze in a time of 1.18.65 and Georgia taking 6th place in 1.19.85. Emer Doyle made finals in the 14 year old group, finishing seventh in 1.22.61, whilst Lauren Robinson took the same position for the 15 year old girls in a time of 1.19.78. In the boys 100 back stroke event Daniel Chambers had a fabulous swim, confidently winning gold in a time of 1.05.29.
In the 200 IM, Olivia and Ellie both made finals for the 12 and under girls, with Olivia finishing sixth in 2.57.47 and Ellie 7th in 2.57.57.In the 13 year old group Jane and Abbie made finals, with Jane winning silver in 2.49.41 and Abbie fourth place in 2.50.74.
Lauren Robinson won silver in the 15 year old age group with a time of 2.48.95. In the 13 year old boys event, Joel Milligan also won silver in 2.49.24.
The relay events at these competitions are hard fought and nail biting stuff. This was certainly the case in the girls 12 and under medley relay, with the team of Emma McElderry, Ellie Purdy, Olivia Knox and Ellie Robinson swimming a fabulous time of 2.27.77 and claiming their victorious gold medals.
Saturday’s proceedings commenced with the female 400 IM. Jane Kilpatrick had a superb swim, swimming an eight-second PB and winning gold in 5.54.33.Daniel Chambers stepped up to the mark also and won the 16 year old group with a time of 5.13.56. Alex Donnelly came fifth in 12 and under with a time of 6.37.07.
The 100 fly race for the girls produced yet another medal, with Abbie McCullough winning gold in her age group with 1.17.34.Jane made final in this event and finished 6th in 1.21.94. In the 12 year old group Olivia Knox and Ellie Robinson both made the finals, Olivia finishing 4th in 1.22.84 and Ellie 7th in 1.23.64.
Lauren Robinson also made final in her age group narrowly missing out in a medal with a time of 1.20.04 and fourth place. The 100 fly event for the boys produced two more medals. Joel came 2nd in his age group with 1.16.88 and Scott Donnelly did likewise in his group, clocking a time of 1.11.89.
Three female Banbridge swimmers made the finals in 100 breast stroke. In their respective age groups Jane came sixth, Emer Doyle sixth and Lauren fifth, whilst in the male event Daniel won gold in 1.15.96 and Eunan Quinn finished seventh in the 12 year old and under, his time being 1.33.84.
The medals continued with the 200 freestyle event. Scott came third in the 15 year old group with 2.12.58, and in the next age group Daniel Chambers produced yet another gold medal in 2.12.58.
Joel Milligan made the final in his age group also, narrowly missing a medal and finishing fourth in a time of 2.29.43. Georgia Davies made the final in the 13 year old female age group and swam a super time of 2.29.51 and finishing fourth.
The 12 and under freestyle relay brought more excitement and pacing of poolside by the coaches. The team of Olivia Knox, Kate Allenby, Ellie Purdy and Ellie Robinson gave it their all and narrowly missed out in a gold medal finishing in second place in 2.10.74.
Coaches and swimmers beat their chest for the final day of the competition as three-days of racing is no easy task, even for the hardened athletes of Banbridge ASC!
The 400 freestyle female event did not produce any medals but Jane, Emer and Lauren all swam well and secured top 10 finishes. Lauren came fourth in 5.24.97, Jane was fifth in 5.18.44 and Emer ninth in 5.45.48.
Following this the boys competed in the 200 breast stroke event. Joel made the final here and finished in seventh place with 3.27.25. In the female event Jane and Emer both made the finals, Jane finishing fourth with a time of 3.14.00 and Emer sixth in 3.27.87.
In the male 100 freestyle event Caolan Quinn made the final and finished 8th place in 1.08.84. Lauren Robinson also made the final in her event finishing in seventh place with 1.09.81. The 200 Back stroke produced a final gold medal from Daniel in 2.21.29, a fabulous end to his weekend, whilst in the female event Ellie Robinson, Olivia Knox, Abbie McCullough, Georgia Davies, Emer Doyle and Lauren Robinson all made finals.
Abbie narrowly missed a podium position finishing 4th 2.48.71.Ellie came fifth in 2.47.60, Olivia seventh in 2.53.33, Georgia sixth in 2.51.79, Emer sixth in 3.05.19 and Lauren sixth in 2.50.11.
Two brave souls, Scott and Caolan stepped up for the ultimate endurance event , the 1500m freestyle event. Scott won a gold medal in the 15 year old boys age group and Caolan took silver in the 13 year old group. Their times were 20.35.61 and 21.36.46 respectively.
The gala finished on a high with superb swims by the 13-14 year old girls in their relay events. The team of Georgia, Jane, Emer and Abbie stole the show winning gold in their medley relay in a time of 2.24.50 and their freestyle relay in 2.07.73 , a fitting end to a fabulous team performance from Banbridge ASC.
Through the meet Division 1 times were achieved by Jane Kilpatrick, Georgia Davies and Ellie Robinson, who now join Poppy Robinson, Jenny Wilson, Graham Stevenson, Allyce Nixon and Patrick McNiff in Division 1 at Limerick next weekend. Daniel Chambers qualified for Irish youth Championships in Dublin, joining Cameron McDonald and Megan McKenna the following week .
Special mention also goes to Daniel who won the award for the top male 16 year old at Division 2. Another first for Banbridge and a superb achievement for Daniel, so congratulations to him and good luck to all the swimmers over the next two weeks.
Well done and congratulations also to all the coaches and parents who accompanied the swimmers to Limerick.
Everyone was well fed and watered and the experience of the University campus allowed parents to briefly recapture those student days of a few years back.
The swimmers had a super time, even finding time and energy to do dance routines at poolside which all the spectators enjoyed! This encompasses what Banbridge ASC is all about , hard work, big personalities and a lot of fun.