Our younger competitors got a taste of the competitive side of swimming at the recent Future Challengers meet organised by SWSC in the Douglas pool. In many ways this group, which represents the future of the club, were most affected by the pandemic. While the Seniors and Intermediates had regular exercise Zooms throughout the lockdown, the Juniors were prevented from swimming, with most of the younger ones still in the Learn to Swim group. Now under the new Assistant Head Coach Michael Merrigan and his team of coaches they are improving rapidly!
The recent Future Challengers meet featured nearly 50 SWSC competitors, a record number in recent times. Many had recently been promoted from the Learn to Swim program and showed excellent skill levels across all four strokes. Apart from individual events where there were a large number of first, second and third places (see results elsewhere on the website), there were nine SWSC relay teams competing which added greatly to the excitement. The improvement in technique and race strategy was very apparent, and it was particularly pleasing to see everyone competing in the Individual Medley events. To succeed in swimming, a mixture of improving fitness and higher skill levels is required and both of these aspects are being developed.
Crucially, we believe that these youngsters are enjoying the competitions (which is vital if swimmers are to continue in the sport). Their successes are a testimony to the great work being done by Margot and her LTS team also. The team spirit displayed by all the swimmers was notable but it would not have happened without the major support by team managers and parents.
We look forward to the next one 👏.
Club records represent the fastest times ever by SWSC swimmers. They are Open records not confined to particular Age Groups and are broken relatively rarely. However, the recent Munster Short Course championships was an exception with our team breaking four individual and four relay records! Our swimmers performed exceptionally well at this meet.
Here we will concentrate on the Club records:
- Eva Harrington 50 Freestyle 26.30
- Isabel Kidney 100 IM 1:05.16 and 200 IM 2:22.75
- Sean Bugler 100 IM 59.67
- Women’s 4 X 50 Free Relay (Eva, Ellen Lee, Izzy McGrath, Isabel) 1:48.16; and 4 X 50 Medley (same team in different order) 1:59.78
- Mixed 4 X 50 Free Relay (Sean, Eva, Isabel, Mark Galland) 1:42.89; and 4 X 50 Medley (same team in different order) 1:54.61.
Remarkably, our Women’s relay team also set two Munster records (see times above).
A third Munster record came from our 4 X 50 Medley Men’s Junior 18 and under team (Sean, Balint Szatmari, Michael O’Driscoll , Mark) 1:51.51.
Munster records are the next level up from club records. The top level are National records (then of course European and World Records). Two Irish records are held for SWSC by Liam Custer (Long Course Junior 800 Freestyle and 400 Individual Medley).
We’re back with a bang after the pandemic! Well done to all swimmers in the large team, and to coaches, managers and parents.
As most members know, two of our best female swimmers are on scholarships in the USA this season.
Sharon Semchiy, recently voted SWSC swimmer of the year, is training and enrolled in an MA programme at the University of Indianapolis, one of the top NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) Division 2 colleges. Sharon who favors the fly and shorter freestyle events has been involved in an intensive dual meet season in SCY (25yd) pools and has been improving steadily towards the very tough qualifying times for the 2024 NCAA championships. On Dec 2 she swam a full second better that the NCAA cut in the 200 fly. Her SCY yards time converts to 2:17 for SCM (25m pool) and represents a two second improvement from her previous PB! Now her effort will be focused on improving her 200 fly time and making the NCAA cuts in the 50 and 100 fly and free. We look forward to seeing her at the upcoming Irish SC Nationals.
Antonina Sech, who is spending her transition year at the Mercersburg Academy, one of the top swimming high schools in the USA, is also showing great improvement. She was able to return to Ireland over the Thanksgiving holiday, and competed with the team at the recent Munster SC Championships. Despite jet lag she won her best event, the 200m backstroke in a time of 2:19 that reduced her PB by several seconds. Again we can expect fast swims from her at the SC Nationals.
Tom Cross SWSC Technical Sub Committee
Great times by our overseas member Clare Custer!
The second part of the new format Summer Nationals, for swimmers of 15 and over, was held in NAC Dublin from July 26 to 30. There were 33 qualifiers from SWSC, all but two of whom travelled. Nearly half of all 151 swims were Personal Bests (see detailed results on Swim Ireland Live Timing and Meet Mobile).
Relays are the best indication of team performance and at this competition were Senior only (open to all age groups). Particularly notable were our women’s 4 x 100 freestyle and medley relays. The same team of Beth Nolan, Isabel Kidney, Sharon Semchiy and Ellen Lee won both of these events, and also was third in the 4 x 200 freestyle relay. This continues the long tradition of prominence in these events at National level by our women. In the 4 x 100 medley relay, the team mentioned above set Club and Munster records in finishing first in Ireland. This may be Beth Nolan’s last appearance in these events since she is quitting full time training. She has been a great representative for SWSC, both in National individual and relay events throughout the last decade, and we wish her, and Anna Feenan, who has also retired from full time training (and in particular was excellent in the 4 x 200 freestyle relay), well in the future. In addition, the relatively young men’s relay representatives are now featuring in the top 10 teams and this bodes well for the future.
Several SWSC swimmers also won medals in individual events. Sean Bugler was first in the 17 800 free and second in both the 17 400 and 1500 free. Andrew Feenan was third in the 19 and over 200 breast stroke. Michael O’Driscoll was third in the 17 800 freestyle. Isabel Kidney, who was Echo swimmer of the month for July, was second in the 17 100 breast stroke and third in the 17 50 free and 200 IM. Izzy McGrath was first in the 17 100 fly (in a four second improvement from her entry time) and third in the 17 100 back stroke. Antonina Sech, who is spending the 2023/24 season in the premier swimming school the Mercerburg Academy in the USA, was first in the 16 200 back and second in the 100 backstroke. Finally Sharon Semchiy won the 18 & over 100 and 200 fly, where she has finished on the National podium for several years. Others making A finals were David O’Leary in the 15 age group, and Ellen Lee, Grace Lynch and Beth Nolan at 18 and over.
Also in July, our overseas member Clare Custer, based in the Sarasota Sharks in Florida and coached by Brent Arckey, recorded a series of excellent times in the longer freestyle events in one of the Futures Meets in the USA. Clare, who all will recall performed so well in the 14 Age Group at last year’s Irish Summer Nationals, went 4:25.46 for 400, 8:58.4 for 800 and 17:03,07 for 1500 free (LCM). All of these times would have won all age groups in this year’s Irish Summer Nationals.
Tom Cross – August 2023
This year Swim Ireland (SI) changed the previous Division 1 and 2 format and instead split the Nationals into an Age Group Meet (12 to 14 year olds) held in the UL pool (July 6 to 9) and a Youth and Senior Summer Nationals (15 and over) scheduled for July 26 to 30 in Dublin. (Incidentally, this is the same format as is used in the USA.) The qualifying times were relaxed for these events this year leading to a huge entry but will be made much harder next year. Some 700 swimmers competed in Limerick with a team of 15 from SWSC.
Our club results (see Meet Mobile and SI Live Timing) exceeded our expectations. There were 68 PBs in 113 individual swims, and since many of the entry times were short course conversions (over optimistic?) the number of best Long Course best times greatly exceeded this number.
There were many highlights:
- Both Aoife Gardiner and Caoilinn O’Connor achieved National Squad QTs in the 100 back stroke, and are very close on the required second event; the 100 free in the case of Aoife and 200 back for Caoilinn. These times will be registered with SI.
- The girls mentioned above combined with Liam O’Driscoll and Thomas Bugler to win both the 13/14 Mixed 400 Medley and Freestyle relays. Both of these events were won by the narrowest of margins and the final legs raised the biggest cheers of the meet! These final freestyle legs both featured Aoife. In the Medley she started behind two other girls and snatched first place, swimming two seconds faster that her PB. In the freestyle relay she started several meters ahead of two boys and managed to hold them off, swimming another second faster than her previous PB.
- Caoilinn, Liam and Thomas also won several individual medals: Caoilinn-first in the 100 and 200 back and third in the 400IM; Liam-second in the 400 free and third in the 200 fly, and Thomas-third in the 200 and 400 free and 100 fly.
Well done all!
However, on a cautionary note for the future, all but three of our team were in their 14th year (born 2009) and girls predominated. We will have to work hard to address this for next year (our centenary year). Essentially, we need four or five boys and girls qualifying in each of the 12, 13 and 14 age groups (born 2012, 2011 and 2010)!
Tom Cross – July 2023