Wat-er way to finish the season as Bann swimmers shine in Limerick

The Banbridge ASC squad at the Irish Age Group Championships.
The Banbridge ASC squad at the Irish Age Group Championships.

Banbridge Amateur Swimming Club are enjoying a great end to the season at the Irish Age Group Championships.

They saw swimmers qualify for both the Division Two and Division One events. First up were the Division Two competitors at the UL Arena in Limerick.

Zoe Kilpatrick shows off her gold medal.

Zoe Kilpatrick shows off her gold medal.

The club continues to be very well represented, and at this year’s event sent swimmers to compete in every session. The first took place on the Thursday afternoon (25th June). Adam Wilson (11) got things underway in the 1500m, and excelled.

He smashed his entry time with almost two minute personal best and raced home in 20m22.59s and won gold medal, and also secured qualifying time for IAG Div 1 2016 event.

With swimmers arriving in Limerick over the course of the Thursday and Friday there was a great buzz about the camp and coach Doretta Ripon was looking forward to a first taste of the Limerick event.

The format for the remaining three days is preliminary rounds in the morning swimming for finals qualifications in the evening sessions. With three further full days of swimming ahead the young Banbridge swimmers didn’t disappoint.

Peter and his silver medal.

Peter and his silver medal.

Zoe Kilpatrick (12) got Fridays session underway in the 400m IM, this being a heat declared winner, it was all to race for. Zoe excelled with a 22sec pb and adding a very well deserved GOLD medal. Declan McGeown (13) then took to the blocks in the same event and matched his recently set entry time, and coming in in a credible fourth place.

It was now time for the 100 and 200m prelims to get underway the first being boys 100m backstroke with Dawson Patterson (11), Peter Bigley (11), Adam Wilson and Ryan Bigley (12) ready for action. The boys all recorded PBs with Dawson and Ryan securing places in the evenings finals. Friday mornings events continued with 200m free and 100m breaststroke, with Adam reaching the 200m final.

The swimmers were adapting well to the event and returned in the evening to take part in the finals recording two top five finishes.

Friday saw the remaining squad members arrive, with Aidin Quinn (11) and Niall McGeown (11). After a well earned rest the BASC squad arrived at poolside early in determined mood. First up was 400m free, another heat declared event. Dawson and Nial contested the first heat, followed by Peter. Adam and Ryan swam in the same heat and for the second time this season finished on an exact matching time.

Dawson displays his hard-earned bronze medal.

Dawson displays his hard-earned bronze medal.

The boys were close to the medals narrowly missing out with Adam and Peter finishing fourth and fifth. Zoe was up next in 100m fly, and pb’d again to reach the final and registering a Division 1 qualifying time. The vibe in the camp was really good and the swimmers were pushing each other on and Dawson and Adam pulled out great swims to reach another final, this time in 200m backstroke.

The final event of the session was 200IM, Zoe recorded yet another pb in her heat, and Aidin (11) swam solid in her heat which saw her compete with swimmers from all across Ireland, a great experience for all the young swimmers. The boys also continued to produce numerous pb’s in the event and Ryan reached the final.

This was proving to be a marathon event for the swimmers and coach Doretta, and the support from the parents ensuring they were well looked after and fed between sessions was a vital part of the weekend.

The swimmers got their heads down once more for afternoon rest dreaming of yet more finals and medals. Batteries recharged they entered the arena for the Saturday finals. First event was 100m butterfly, and Zoe Kilpatrick was on fire and claimed yet another medal, this time bronze, well done. Mark Craig from Swim Ulster had been attending the sessions and had a chat with some of the swimmers,who by now were looking like seasoned professionals.

Next up was the boys 200m backstroke final, and in the 11 and under final two of the 8 were BASC boys Dawson and Adam. The boys again didn’t disappoint both improving on their PB’s from the morning and Dawson steaming into 3rd place to collect his bronze medal, very well deserved.

Zoe then again stepped onto the blocks to contest her 200m IM final and added another bronze to the haul. Ryan Bigley was the last BASC swimmer to take part and it was in his 200IM final.

He swam superb in a hotly contested category, coming in 4th place and his pb being only 4/10th of a second away from a Division One qualifying time.

As promised the swimmers, coach and parents enjoyed a water fight on the Saturday evening, round one going to the parents, but then other clubs joined in and team BASC were never troubled taking on a couple of other clubs and coming out on top, just in time for dinner.

The swimmers met with coach again and discussed the final day ahead, and again they knew the importance of eating and resting properly and undertook that impeccably.

Sunday’s first event was the girls turn at the 400m free, with Zoe taking part. It was another solid swim and yet another medal, bronze again, she was certainly having a great weekend.

Following that was 200m breast with even more PB’s and a final for Ryan who secured his Division One qualifying time in the event, and final for Zoe.

The boys also enjoyed more success in the 100m free heats with Peter and Ryan securing yet more places in the final.

The last session of the weekend beckoned and yet more spoils were up for grabs. Credit to the swimmers, both Ryan and Zoe scored PBs in their 200m breast finals and Peter stormed home in what was almost a dead heat winning silver medal in the 100m freestyle.

It was now time to draw breathe and look back on the weekends achievements. There were personal best times recorded every day, not only in prelims but then further improvements in finals, medals won and Division One times recorded on each day of the competition.

Coach Doretta Ripon was very proud of all the swimmers, and also complimented them on their behaviour poolside and how well they represented their club and town at this national event.

Chairman Mark Wilson said: “The swimmers were simply brilliant, their conduct towards each other and their competitors over this four day event was professional to a point.

“They performed so well during the competition and came home with well deserved times and of course medals. It was a great weekend and was only possible with the hard work behind the scenes by all the parents, preparing meals, poolside snacks, taxiing swimmers to and from the venue, and performing volunteering officiating duties.

“Coach Doretta must be commended on looking after the swimmers’ individual needs preparing them all for their swims, supervising warm up and cool downs and being a real team player, even in the water fight.

“The weekend was also topped off by a quirky poem summarising the weekend, so thanks Tracey. The club continue to push for successes and have an even larger squad of swimmers taking part in IAG Division One Champs from 15th-19th July at the Dublin NEC, so good luck to them.”

The team returned home late on Sunday night and ready for a well earned summer break.