It was the climax of the season for Banbridge Swimming Club when they took on the all-Ireland top ranking swimming event in Dublin’s National Aquatic Centre: the Irish Age Group and Summer Open.
With 21 of the club’s top members competing over 26 events, the Banbridge team were represented with three times more young athletes than last year, and 11 year-old Julia Knox was the pick of the bunch, getting a bronze medal.
The first event, 50m Freestyle open saw athletes from across Ireland, Commonwealth Scottish swimmers and some incredible Italian sprinters. Banbridge’s Megan McKenna, Jenny Wilson, Ellie Purdy, Rachel Smyth and Esmee Hall were up for the challenge with Megan, Rachel and Ellie knocking seconds off their PBs.
Equally as fast and furious, the 50m Butterfly event. Again against multinationals, Banbridge’s Esmee Hall held her own and won a place in the semi-finals with a rewarding PB of 31:44.
Nicky Galloway won a place in both the semi-finals and finals of the 50m Backstroke and also achieved a PB of 27:89. Nicky also went on to compete in the 100m fly again winning a place in the final finishing in 1:08:91.
100m Girls Butterfly saw Rachel Smyth place 17th overall in Ireland. Without a doubt, this event’s top Banbridge club swimmer was 11 year old Julia Knox who exceeded everyone’s expectations by taking over seven seconds off her PB, securing her place in the finals, coming third and taking bronze.
The Men’s 100m Breastroke saw Christopher Morrow cut his entry time by an impressive 3.10 seconds, also competing were William Pinkerton and Scott Donnelly. Not to be outdone, the Girls’ 100m Breastroke saw Jessica Robinson and Julia Knox achieve places in the finals, with Becki Pinkerton retaining her entry time.
In the finals, Jessica finished seventh in an impressive time off 1:27:42 and Julia finished 10th in 1:28:54. Kate Allenby, 13, topped her 100m breastroke by taking 2.46 seconds off her entry time while Charlotte Campbell and Poppy Robinson’s streamline dives placed them in good heat positions.
The 200m Girls Breastroke saw 11 year olds Jessica Robinson, Julia Knox and Becki Pinkerton achieve PBs. They were joined by Maeve Cleland, Kate Allenby and Charlotte Campbell. Both Jessica and Julia powered their way into the finals with Jessica finishing seventh in 3:04:41 and Julia finishing ninth in 3:07:43.
Also in the 200m Breastroke swam Scott Donnelly, Thomas Hall, with Christopher Morrow taking a remarkable 10.45 seconds off his entry time and team mate William Pinkerton; the only Ulster swimmer achieving a PB and a place in the final, finishing 10th in 3:02:57.
Thomas Hall competed in the 400m IM (individual medley), taking 1.2 seconds off his PB. Similarly Ellie Purdy, Olivia Knox and Charlotte Campbell topped their PBs with Ellie taking an impressive 4.35 seconds off her entry time.
Covering half this distance, the 200IM saw Becki Pinkerton achieve a PB of 2:57:50, Maeve Cleland take 2.18 seconds off her time and club’s pocket rocket Julia Knox continued her outstanding performance with a place in the finals, finishing ninth in 2:47:90.
One of the most popular events, the 100m Freestyle saw Maeve Cleland, Julia Knox, Ellie Purdy, Ellie Robinson, Jenny Wilson, Esmee Hall, Rachel Smyth and Poppy Robinson race against tough competition. Also competing in the Men’s 100m Freestyle was Christopher Morrow, Ross Johnston and Caolan Quinn. Ross later went on to achieve a PB in the 100m back crawl. In the girls 400m Freestyle, both Kate and Ellie achieved PBs.
The girls also placed well in the four-person relay teams: U14 freestyle relay Kate Allenby, Olivia Knox, Ellie Purdy and Ellie Robinson came fourth in their heat. The open Freestyle relay was overall sixth place and included Jenny Wilson, Esmee Hall, Poppy Robinson and Megan McKenna. The 400m IM relays saw the same U14 team hit PBs in their legs of the relay, notably Olivia’s back crawl and Kate’s breastroke.