SWIMMERS from Banbridge ASC had an outstanding weekend of success at the Ulster Age Group Championships, which took place at the Lisburn Leisureplex on March 15-17.
This competition requires swimmers to achieve qualifying times to enter and the competition is at the highest level in Ulster swimming. It is an opportunity for swimmers to showcase their improvement over the season in the run up to Irish Division One and Division Two and is the culmination of hard work and training all season.
Over the three day event, 24 medals were awarded - six gold, 10 silver and eight bronze.
Harry Farson had a phenomenal gala, winning two gold medals in 200m and 400m free in times of 2.29.14 and 5.12.79, achieving a PB of 35 seconds in the 400m!
He followed this up with silver in his 200 and 400 IM events, recording a time of 2.56.18 in the 200 and 6.02.73 in the 400. Harry also won bronze in the gruelling 200 fly event in a time of 2.55.40.
These results are unprecedented in the club for a swimmer of this age and are down to Harry’s discipline and strong work ethos in training.
Senior swimmer, Jenny Wilson, produced superb performances throughout the weekend achieving no fewer than seven medals, two gold and five silver. Claiming her first gold medal in the 100 free, she posted a time of 1.00.01, which was 0.01 seconds outside an Ulster squad qualifying time, however she made the squad with a fabulous swim in the final of the 100 back with a time of 1.08.39 and won silver in the process.
Jenny also was awarded gold for her 400m IM, which she swam in a time of 5.23.88. Strong swims in 100m fly, 200m fly, 200m free and 200m IM completed her massive medal haul.
Nicky Galloway had a great gala, winning four medals. He won gold in 100m back with a time of 58.63. Furthermore he picked up silver in the 200m free, his time being 1.58.26. The haul was completed with bronze medals in 100 fly (1.01.04) and 200 IM (2.19.09).
Alex Donnelly had a great weekend at the gala, the highlight being awarded bronze in the 100m fly in a time of 1.21.08. Alex also made the finals of the 100m breast and 100m free, finishing in sixth and seventh place respectively and narrowly missed out in medalling in 200m free (2.29.41).
His brother Scott swam a super 200m breast, giving him a silver medal with a time of 2.55.57, an eight second improvement on his personal best. Scott also had solid swims in the 200m free, 400m free and 200m IM, finishing in the top 10 in these events.
Patrick McNiff claimed two bronze medals over the weekend in the 400m IM and 200m breast. In the 400m IM he swam a time of 5.33.22, knocking 13 seconds off his previous time and in the 200m breast his time was 2.59.76. Patrick also made the finals of the 100m breast and 100m back, finishing in fifth place in the breast and seventh in the back.
William Pinkerton won two medals, both in breaststroke. He won silver in the 200m breast with a time of 3.14.02 and bronze in the 100m event, recording a time of 1.29.50. William just missed out in a medal in the 200m back and finished fifth in the 200m IM.
The medal haul was completed by Mikey Mitchell, who won silver in 200m back in 2.21.84. Mikey made the finals of the 100m free and 100m back, finishing sixth in the free with 55.42 and fifth in the back with 1.05.02.
Julia Knox was the youngest Banbridge swimmer at the Championships. At nine years old, Julia was competing in the 11 and under category, so was swimming against older swimmers. Despite this, she swam confidently and finished in the top 10 in her 200m IM and 200m breast in times of 3.06.84 and 3.25.18. Julia also swam a six second PB in 200m back.
Olivia Knox finished in the top 10 in 200m back (2.48.45) and 400m free (5.25.94).
Ten year olds Jessica Robinson and Lauren Armstrong both deserve praise for achieving qualifying times for this gala. Jessica swam a fabulous 14 second PB in 200m breast, finishing in a time of 3.33.25, whilst Lauren gained confidence in the freestyle and backstroke events. Sophie Mount took part in several events, swimming personal bests in 100 free, 200 back, and 100 back. Furthermore, she took 14 seconds off her 400m free, swimming a time of 5.52.31. These girls will be a force to be reckoned next year!
Allyce Nixon swam a super 200m breast finishing sixth in a time of 3.04.41. However, she also had a super swim in 200m back, finishing sixth in 2.44.49 with a 12 second PB.
Eunan Quinn, also a strong breaststroker, made the final in 100m breast, finishing fifth with a time of 1.30.82. He also finished fifth in the 200m breast event. Brother Caolan, made the final in the 100m free, finishing sixth and finished fifth in 1500m free (20.21.93).
Michael Rafferty made the final in 100m breast, finishing in seventh place with 1.26.93. He also swam a super 10 second PB in the 200m free (2.23.62).
The Robinson girls, Poppy and Ellie, swam well all weekend. Ellie’s most noteworthy swims were in the 400m IM and 400m free, where she swam five second PB’s in both, swimming a time of 6.07.62 in the IM and 5.17.98 in the 400m free. Poppy made the finals in 100m fly and 100m breast and finished sixth in the 200m IM (2.41.23).
Training partners, Kate Allenby and Ellie Purdy both swam head to head in the 100m free and 100m back finals. In the free, Ellie finished fourth in 1.06.14 with Kate close behind in fifth, with a time of 1.06.91. In the back Kate finished fifth in 1.15.68 and Ellie finished eighth in 1.16.91. Ellie swam a blinder in the 100m breast. Only a finger nail separated the positions. Ellie finished fourth with a time of 1.24.47, a fabulous four second PB. Kate made the final in the 100m fly and finished eighth. She also swam a great 400m (5.11.65) free knocking 16 seconds off her previous time.
Charlotte Campbell enjoyed her first UAG gala. She swam strongly in both the 200 breast and the 400 free, taking eight seconds off in the former (3.26.64) and 11 seconds off the latter (5.45.19).
Hannah Beattie, who has fitted seamlessly into the Banbridge club, also swam well over the weekend. She swam PBs in most of her events, but she swam a fabulous 11 second PB in 400m free, swimming a time of 5.20.65. Hannah is enjoying having a new group to train with and we look forward to her progressing further with the club.
The highlight of Graham Stevenson’s weekend was a spectacular swim in the 1500m free. He took a massive 34 seconds off his previous time, finishing in a time of 18.03.06, finishing fourth. Graham also narrowly missed out on a medal in 200m back, which he swam in a time of 2.29.49.
The gala weekend, falling over St Patrick’s Day, meant that most parents and coaches were unable to drown their shamrocks, however they did this for the greater good of the swimmers! The gala was run with military precision and everyone played their part. Well done and thanks to all the coaches, parents and swimmers.