It now looks like open water swimming will be possible in May and that the pools may be able to reopen in June. Swimmers-all of your efforts to keep engaged during to worst of the lockdown will pay off in a rapid return to great performances. After all these land exercise sessions your athletic ability is now better than ever!
Meanwhile elite training has continued, culminating in the Olympic and Paralympic trials this week (April 20-24) in Dublin. SWSC have three competitors, Andrew Feenan, Sean O’Riordan and Liam Custer. And our Head Coach Richard Cassidy will be attending the meet, which is being held under very strict health regulations.
Andrew, who is part of the National Squad and has been training with John Szaranek in NAC Limerick where he attends UL, will swim his two best events-the 100m and 200m breast stroke. In a recent time trial he improved his PB in the 200m by three seconds. Tapered he should be able to challenge both times. Ironically, these are the events in which Ireland has its best competitors so his major aim will be to maintain his great progress and qualify for International meets in future years.
Sean will compete in the 50m, 100m and 400m freestyle in the Paralympic trials. He has the best chance of qualifying in the 400 but the QT is a very tough 4:34. He swam this event for Ireland in the Para World Championships in 2018 but the QT was then 4:48. His best before lockdown was 4:41. After an interrupted 2020, he has been training in the NACs in Limerick and Dublin since Christmas, and has just returned from a 10day camp in Tenerife, so hopefully his fitness has returned and improved.
Liam, who hails from Sarasota Florida, has been a valued member of SWSC for several years. Since he holds joint US and Irish passports, he is eligible to declare for Ireland. He is one of the best 16 year olds in the USA, and will compete in the 200m, 400m, 800m and 1500m freestyles at the trials. Since his 800 and 1500 times are better than the Irish U19 Junior records, he should have a good chance of qualifying for this summer’s European Junior Championships in Rome. We applaud his efforts to get to Ireland which were greatly facilitated by Jon Rudd and his team in Swim Ireland!
I am sure you will all be watching their endeavours! And let’s hope all the rest of you can back in the water as soon as possible!
We hope that you are all keeping well during these challenging times.
The Sundays Well Swimming Club Committee continues to meet monthly. Our most recent meeting was Monday 1 March. And it’s timely to update you.
Our objective is to keep as many members as actively engaged as possible through this period and to take opportunities to develop the Club so that we have a stronger Club when COVID restrictions are lifted than we had when they were introduced.
The Club is committed to providing pool-based swimming for competitive, non-competitive and masters swimmers as soon as COVID restrictions allow, we will provide open water swimming as an alternative where possible and our coaches continue to provide regular sessions for fitness and fun.
Meanwhile we are investing for the future.
Coaches and Committee Members are working with Swim Munster and Swim Ireland to develop technical and committee skills. Rob Lamb is on the Swim Munster Pathway Development Committee and Richard Cassidy is on the Swim Ireland Performance Advisory Group. These are important opportunities to influence decisions regarding competitions, performance matters and the selection of representative teams, and Committee members are involved in Swim Ireland meetings and workshops on club development.
Our Coaches plan, prepare, deliver and follow-up on virtual sessions, working hard to keep them interesting and engaging, researching the best of ideas from Swim Ireland and other sources.
When we return to the pool, we expect to have installed a large display screen, a valuable coaching aid, funded through a Cork City Council Sports Capital Grant, and a new music system to enhance training sessions. And we have just submitted a Sports Capital Grant application which, if successful, will allow us to be the first swimming club in Ireland to have a pace light system for pool work and resistance training equipment for pool work.
It is important to emphasise that the Club is run on a non-profit basis. Our objective is that income equals outgoings every year. However, we project that the Club will operate with a deficit this year where outgoings will exceed income over the course of the year. Given the uncertainty, it is very difficult to project what this deficit will be, and therefore it’s very difficult to manage the Club finances. For the moment, our aim is to adapt our fee structure month by month so that it is appropriate to the circumstances and fair to all members.
The next Club Committee meeting is Tues 5 April and we look forward to having positive news about returning to water then.
Meanwhile, we welcome support from all members as we work through challenging times.
Sundays Well Swimming Club
I want to begin by wishing all competitors, their parents, our coaches and teachers, committee and sub-committees, and all members-including Masters, a very Happy New Year. Two thousand and twenty one should eventually be much better than 2020 because of the roll out of the vaccines. However, it is obvious that it will take some months to get out of the present serious situation. Meanwhile let’s be as positive as possible!
Thank you all for your efforts and major enthusiasm in 2020. Swimmers- you did far more land work than in previous years, and this increased athleticism transferred to the pool, allowing you to maintain or even improve competitive times. We will continue with remote exercise sessions this month. If you have ideas of other things the club might offer, then let us know.
Competitive swimmers are by definition extremely organised individuals. They have to be to balance academic life at school or college with the demands of elite swimming. (And they are often the best scholars!) With lockdowns and remote learning it may be necessary to plan your own days. The most important thing is not to feel isolated either academically, swimming-wise or socially. Ask questions! Keep in regular contact with your friends.
Several of you are in your Leaving Certificate year. If you are finding the demands of swimming too much, then work out a reduced programme with your coaches. But do not quit altogether! You have probably heard about the findings of an English neurologist that aerobic exercise improves brain function and academic performance. We hope you will continue to swim for the next few years. Most people can improve greatly in their early 20s with a good programme. Let us know if we can help with future choices!
You were all very enthusiastic in the pre-Christmas time trials. Unfortunately, the progress of the pandemic prevented these from being completed properly. The Swim Ireland idea was to introduce a virtual competition between clubs, including those from Britain. The first competitions allowed this spring will probably be intra club time trials and your coaches will work with SI to introduce a major inter-club competitive element.
When you got back in the water in early December it was envisaged that the SC Nationals would go ahead. Twenty eight of our swimmers qualified-a record number! However this format was cancelled because of the disease situation, much to the disappointment of most of our Senior squad. The meet went ahead in NAC Dublin in a much reduced form, restricted to elite swimmers (National squad members) and Paralympic Tokyo “possibles”. It was also decided to run SC events in the morning and LC of the same events in the evening. This is an arrangement that had been run in the USA earlier in 2020 and is very tough for the swimmers. We had two swimmers involved; Andrew Feenan who is on the National Squad and has been training in NAC Limerick with John Szaranek since the end of the first lockdown in July and is enrolled in UL, and Paralympian Sean O’Riordan who is in 3rd Speech & Language Therapy in UCC and holds a Sports Scholarship there. Andrew recorded a great series of breast stroke PBs-the 50, 100 and 200 LC; and 100 and 200 SC, where his 1:02.01 and 2:14.30 were club records. This was in a meet where there were very few PBs. Sean recorded PBs in the 50 freestyle and breaststroke and was near his best in the 400 SC free, but struggled in the LC event; the latter demonstrating the effect of the lockdown on fitness for longer events. Much more difficult qualifying times have been introduced for the Tokyo Paralympics than for the previous World Championships (in which Sean qualified), and the 400 freestyle is the only event in which he is in reach of qualifying.
Meanwhile our US member Liam Custer was far less affected by lockdown since he trains in a club-controlled outdoor 50m pool in Florida with Sarasota Sharks. This pool is 25 yards wide and was set up during 2020 with a large number of SCY lanes with two swimmers in each maximising social distancing by starting from opposite ends. Outdoor meets were also possible and Liam recorded a remarkable series of LCM times in late autumn (Free: 200 1:55.46; 400 3:58.14; 800 8:09.69; 1500 15:35.69; 200 Back 2:05.29; 400 IM 4:28.23). Both the 800 and 1500 qualify for the US Olympic trials and importantly surpass the current Irish Junior Records. These records are for U19 swimmers and Liam is currently 16! We look forward to him swimming with SWSC when he is next permitted to visit Ireland.