Liam Custer, who lives and trains in Florida with Sarasota Sharks but is also a member of SWSC, has recorded the fastest time in the USA this season in the 15/16 age group 400 IM in a 25 yard pool, recording a time of 3:48.81. Well done Liam!
That time converts to 4:13.97 for SCM, which is better than the current Junior (U 19) and Senior Irish records. He also recorded the ninth fastest 200 yards freestyle in the age group in the USA this season in a time that converts to 1:48 SCM. His 400 IM converted time is a great improvement on the 4:21.89 which he recorded in the 2019 Irish SC Nationals last December where he finished second in the Senior event. He might have competed with SWSC in the Irish Summer Nationals this July but these were cancelled due to the pandemic.
I visited Liam and his family in Sarasota last September. Liam trains outdoors in a pool that is 65m long and can be set up for ten 50m lanes or, as used for most training sessions, as twenty seven 25 yard lanes. That’s great, but the crucial things are he never misses a session and trains almost 50% more than we do in normal times. He also specialises in the longer events (400/ 800/ 1500 free; 200/400 IM, 200 back & fly).
With the present regulations governing the return to training, Swim Ireland following Government Health recommendations, mandated that Senior squads and Masters would be the first groups back. Currently training times are more time restricted than pre-covid. However, you are all being very good in complying with these restrictions and I am told you are going really well in training. Richard Cassidy tells me that you look as if you just missed three weeks rather than three months! Training for the Seniors will continue in Leisure World until August 7, then there will be a two week break while works proceed in that facility. This two week break coincides with that recommended by Ben Higson, Senior National Coach, for the elite Irish team preparing for the Olympics.
It’s very important to maximise your training time so if you have already qualified for the Munster Regional Squads make sure you attend each and every session. If you have yet to qualify, then qualification should be your short term aim (do you know the Munster and Irish squad qualifying times in your age group?).
In relation to the National squad, only Andrew Feenan is currently qualified from Cork. Since that squad returned to the pool Andrew has been training first at the NAC in Dublin and now in the University of Limerick (UL) pool, and tells us he is rapidly getting back his water fitness. As Richard told you he has been awarded a swimming scholarship by UL beginning in September. Well done Andrew!
Finally let me assure you that the Committee and coaches are actively working to restart activities (Senior, Intermediate and Junior squads; the Learn to Swim programme) in Douglas (of course, within Government health regulations). Watch this space for plans for August 24 onwards!