In a full return to competition, over 800 swimmers competed in this year’s Summer Nationals. Individual heats were run together then the finals were split by age group (13, 14, 15, 16, 17 and 18 and over for girls; with the same age groups plus an 18 year and 19 and over final for boys. This novel format was designed to give maximum opportunity to compete in finals after the shut-down caused by the pandemic. The only exceptions were the 50s in the form strokes which were run as Open finals (and thus difficult to reach), and some HDW swims in the longer events. Relays were 14 and under and 15 and over, at 400 and 800 FR and 400 MR for females and males with the addition of a 400 mixed MR. It was in the relays where there were particularly impressive SWSC performances.
This year, a record number (32) of SWSC swimmers qualified and 24 competed (12 females and 12 males) ranging in ages from 13 to 21, with many competing at National level for the first time. There were 170 individual swims of which 99 were Personal Bests (PBs), with all team members recording at least one PB. Sixty heat swims resulted in reaching finals, and there were eight gold, four silver and six bronze medallists (detailed results and photographs have already appeared on the website, with results also on Meet Mobile).
Medallists were Sean Bugler-bronze in 16 200 free; Clare Custer-golds in 14 400, 800 and 1500 free and 200 back and fly; Isabel Kidney-bronze in Open 50 breast stoke and silver in 16 100 and bronze in 200 on the same stroke; Asha Mahanta-golds in 14 100 back and fly and silver in 200 back; Beth Nolan-bronze in 18 and over 200 IM; Liam O’Driscoll-bronze in 14 200 fly; Antonina Sech-bronze in 15 200 IM; and Sharon Semchiy-gold in 18 and over 200 free and silvers in 100 and 200 fly.
Both Clare and Asha were competing with SWSC for the first time. Clare, based in the USA is Liam Custer’s sister, while Asha mother Orla competed with both City of Cork and Cork Masters in the past. Two of Clare’s times (400 free and 200 back) qualify her for the National Performance Pathway squad.
Particularly impressive were Isabel’s time coming 3rd in the Open 50 breast stroke (34.43-a new club record); Sharon’s back end speed in the 200 free and fly after her stint of US training; Andrew Feenan back to his best in the 200 breast stroke, and Aoife Gardner’s great improvement in the free style events (her entry time for the 13 100 free was 1.11 and she swam 1.06s several times individually and in the relays). In addition there were at least seven fourth places, all in impressive times.
SWSC really shone in the relays. The girls 14 and under team of Clare, Asha, Aoife and Carrie Harrington won all three relays (400 and 800 FR and 400 MR), whereas the Boy’s team in the same age group (Thomas O’Driscoll, Vincent Kopczynski, Dylan Gunn and David O’Leary) won two silvers and a bronze in the same events. Our women’s team of Sharon, Beth, Isabel and Anna Feenan (with the latter persisting despite illness) continued the excellent form they displayed in the Dave McCullagh meet in February, winning the 400 and 800 FRs and coming a narrow second in the 400 MR. Their time in the 400 MR was a new club record. Our Men’s 15 and over relay was largely a young team (Marc Galland, Michael O’Driscoll, Sean and Rory Lee) but they still managed a fourth place in the 800 FR. This is the relay that requires the highest level of endurance and their success here bodes well for the future.
Apart from SWSC successes, there were great performances from Dolphin, Blackrock and Limerick SCs. Hopefully we’re seeing a Munster revival.
Thank you for a great display swimmers, coaches and officials (and of course parents). Onwards and upwads!