Great SWSC performances at Irish Open Nationals in NAC Dublin, April 19 to 23

A large group of 17 SWSC swimmers qualified for this event though only 15 travelled, since two were involved in Leaving Cert preparation. As in previous years this 5-day event is the highlight of the Irish season, serving as trials for International meets like the European Senior and Junior Championships and Commonwealth Games later in the year. To optimise individual performances, relays are not included; the club relays in the McCullagh meet, where it will be recalled our women’s team excelled, serving that function. Nine top Irish swimmers had been pre-selected for this summer’s Internationals on the basis of qualifying for the 2021 Olympics, so most did not participate. This actually served to make the meet more competitive and it was great to see a new cohort of younger swimmers participating. It was also good to see spectators again after the protracted lockdown. Apart from the 800 and 1500 freestyle which were run as HDW, all events had morning heats leading to ten swimmer A, Junior and B finals in the evening so most of our competitors got to swim twice (see detailed results on Meet Mobile). Our swimmers participated in 53 events and there were 27 PBs, seven club records and two Irish Junior records.

Our outstanding male swimmer was 18 year old Liam Custer who is based in Florida, where he trains with Sarasota Sharks. Liam is finishing High School and has been awarded a scholarship to Stanford University to begin this autumn. He won the 400IM and 800, and 1500 freestyle (the former two events in Irish Junior record times- a first for a SWSC swimmer in recent times). He was also second in the 200 fly and sixth in the 200 free-all in club records. He has achieved consideration times for several European Junior championship events (team to be announced soon), and is the first SWSC male swimmer to do so; Issey Hayes and Ally Cunningham achieving this distinction some years ago.

Our best female performances came from Sharon Semchiy in the 100 and 200 fly events. She was second in both, timing her finish to perfection in the 100 and hanging on courageously in the 200. She also beat her own club record in the 50 fly, where she finished sixth in a fast field led by Danielle Hill (Danielle had a great meet setting an ISR of 54.87 in the 100 freestyle).

Other SWSC personal best swims came from Rory Lee in the 50 and 100 back; Sean Bugler in the 50 back; Beth Nolan in the 50 fly, 200 IM and 50 Breast stroke (the latter a club record-meaning she now holds all three club LCM records); Anna Feenan in the 50 and 100 fly; Lauren Farr in the 100 and 200 back; Isabel Kidney in the 50, 100 and 200 Breast stroke and 200 IM; Amy Lynch in the 50 Breast stroke, and Antonina Sech in the 200 back.

Well done all. Looking forward to the summer but competition is intensifying!

Tom Cross,

Chair SWSC


The McCullagh Invitational meet held in the 50m pool in Bangor, County Down from February 23 to 25 was extremely competitive, with a large number of fast swimmers from England, Scotland and Wales, including several Olympic medalists. With no restriction on the number of non-Irish swimmers getting into A and B finals, it was difficult for native competitors but none-the-less several, including swimmers from SWSC made finals. Because tapering loses effect if used too many times during the season (and causes loss of training), most swimmers competed untapered. This meant slower times for many swimmers but to highly competitive racing.

Against this backdrop, it was great that our team of 12 swimmers between them achieved 24 personal bests (Sean Buglar two; Laoise Deasy three; Lauren Farr six; Michael Feenan one; Marc Galland three; Isabel Kidney three; Beth Nolan two; Sharon Semchiy four). In addition, some excellent times were recorded in the relays but these (apart from the first leg) cannot be used for individual PBs because of flying starts. All of this means that fitness is returning rapidly after the lockdown, and is a testament to most swimmers attending all training sessions, and to the efforts of Head Coach Richard Cassidy and his team for increasing training intensity.  All club swims were recorded using the new iPad Pro, allowing for rapid post-race analysis. In addition, some of these swims are club records, but work is underway on this part of the website, so confirmation will be delayed.

It was in the women’s relays that the most exceptional results were recorded, as those of you who were following the action will be aware! At the start of the Thursday session our 4 x 200 freestyle relay of Sharon, Lauren, Beth and Anna Feenan won gold. At the end of the same morning session our 4 x 100 Medley relay, with Isabel Kidney replacing Anna, was second. Finally, on the Friday morning, the 4 x100 free relay, with the same composition as the 4 x 200 were third. This group of medals adds to the two bronze medals that our team achieved in the Short Course Championships last December. Very well done girls!

Tom Cross

SWSC Chairperson


Notes from National Competitions December 2021

 Short Course (25m) Nationals 2021

This meet, held in NAC Dublin for three days from December 16 to 18, was one of the best for Sundays Well SC in recent years. While spectators were prohibited because of COVID regulations, there was a large entry and races were highly competitive, with morning heats leading to a Senior (A) final, Transition (B) final and Junior (C) final in most events in the afternoons. While several of the best Irish swimmers were at the SC World Championships in Abu Dhabi (see their great results on the Swim Ireland website), attendance of several excellent overseas teams and the NI preparation for next year’s Commonwealth Games added to the quality of the competition.

  • Twenty swimmers qualified from SWSC and 15 competed. For example, Liam Custer who would have been a medal contender in several events, was unable to travel from his base in Florida.
  • The team won medals in five events. Our women’s 200 freestyle relay (Sharon Semchiy, Lauren Farr, Anna Feenan, Beth Nolan) and 200 medley relay (Sharon, Lauren, Beth, Isabel Kidney) won bronze medals. Sharon was second in the 50 Fly (and incidentally had the fastest Irish 200 Fly). Andrew Feenan was third in the 200 breast stroke where the first and second swimmers recorded near world class times. Isabel was third in the 50 breast stroke, a great achievement for a 15 year old.
  • Lauren Farr, another 15 year old, achieved National Squad times on the 100 and 200, and so joins Andrew as the second SWSC swimmer on this squad.
  • Several club records were broken-the 200 mixed Medley Relay (James Ryan, Andrew, Sharon, Beth) and 200 mixed Freestyle Relay (Sharon, Paul Higgins, Beth , James); Andrew in the 200 breast stroke (both in the heats and again in the final); Sharon in the 50 Fly and Isabel in the 50 breast stroke.
  • There were 39 Personal Best swims across the team, despite the long lockdown-the reductions of more than three seconds in their 200 backstrokes by Rory Lee and James Ryan being particularly impressive. It was also good to see fitness returning after their Leaving Cert year to Anna Feenan and Aoife O’Shea, who attend UL, and to Beth who is enrolled in UCC but travels to Limerick along with Sharon each weekend for long course training. The younger newcomers to this competition also performed impressively (Marc Galland, Michael Feenan, David O’Leary, Eva Harrington, Amy Lynch).

Well done team! You are a credit to your coaches and to the club!

Tom Cross

SWSC Chairperson                                                

Presidents Notes August 2021

This July several of our Senior swimmers were finally able to get back to competition after more than 15 months of covid lockdowns. Nine SWSC swimmers travelled to the modified Summer National Long Course meet in Bangor, County Down. Unlike previous years there were no age groups and qualifying times were tighter, with morning heats leading to A and B Open finals spread over three days. Health restrictions meant only swimmers, coaches and officials could enter the actual pool, with parents being reduced to intermittent observation from the pool restaurant. I was lucky to be allowed to attend as a coach assisting Richard Cassidy, and was delighted to be back at an actual competition. Our swimmers swam 22 events and to our delight, 14 were in personal best (PB) times. This indicated a faster than expected return to pre-pandemic form, and may have been aided by the four-times a week online exercise sessions during the lockdowns.

Andrew Feenan, training at NAC Limerick where he is enrolled in the University, was our only swimmer not to have long periods out of the water during the lockdowns because of membership of one of the Swim Ireland Elite squads. In his best events, the 50, 100 and 200 breast strokes, he finished 4th, 3rd and 2nd. These are probably the most competitive events for Irish swimmers Internationally, with Darragh Greene being part of the nine strong team at the Tokyo Olympics. Andrew’s 200 is now consistently at 2:15 (WR 2:06) down from races of 2:20+ a year ago.

Sharon Semchiy, now a second year UCC student, achieved the best result with a win in the 50m Fly and 2nd in the 100 Fly A finals. Both swims were PBs and the 50 time of 28.76 broke Emma Cassidy’s long standing club record.

Andrew’s younger brother Mike finished 6th in the 200 breast stroke A final in a best time. Marc Galland had a PB by almost two seconds in a highly competitive 100 free, while James Ryan was 3rd in the 100 back A final, again with a best time.

The other four female swimmers all performed excellently. Two of these, Anna Feenan and Beth Nolan were fresh from the stressful Leaving Cert year. Anna was narrowly second in the B final of the 200 free (like the Men’s 100 and 200 freestyles, these were by far the most competitive events), whereas Beth was 3rd in the 200 back A final in an almost one second PB.

Our younger competitors Lauren Farr and Isabel Kidney, both born in 2007, swam five and four events respectively and each had four PBs. Laurens best placing was 4th in the 200 back A final, whereas Isabel was 5th in the 50 breast stroke A final.

Overall these are excellent long course times after a two year hiatus and bode well for the upcoming season. The major events in the autumn will be the SC Munster and National Championships.

As noted in early April, Liam Custer, Andrew Feenan and Sean O’Riordan were selected to compete in the Olympic and Paralympic trials, which many of you watched on TV. Liam travelled over from Florida especially for this meet, observing all of the required health regulations. He finished second in the 800 and 1500 free events in times very close to his PBs. Because of continuing travel difficulties he then elected to stay in the USA. He subsequently swam in the US Olympic trials (often regarded as a more competitive competition than the Olympics themselves), where he improved his ranking in the 1500 from 34th to 25th. In the trials, Andrew swam to a SWSC record of 1:02.99 in the 100 breast stroke and a good PB of 2:15+ in the 200 breast stroke. Neither reached the very difficult Olympic QTs but both are on upward trajectories that look good for the future.

Sean improved his pre-pandemic 400 free PB by a second but failed to reach the tough Tokyo Paralympic QT of 4:34. Unlike Andrew he had not been able to train consistently through the latter nine months of 2020 and this longer event, which requires large amounts of consistent training, obviously suffered. All three are to be congratulated on their achievements in being selected to participating in the trials. We hope to have many more swimmers doing so in future!

Tom Cross

SWSC President

Presidents Notes April 2021

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! 

Tom Cross

SWSC President

SWSC President Notes January 2021

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.

Tom Cross

SWSC President

Most successful Summer Nationals in recent years-many Personal Bests, Medals and Records.

Twenty-four SWSC swimmers competed in last weeks Irish Age Groups and Summer Nationals in the 50m pool in the National Aquatic Centre in Dublin. Individual age groups were 12/13, 14, 15, 16 and 17 and older. The latter age group was particularly competitive with for example Danielle Hill and Mona McSharry setting Irish Senior records (Danielle’s 50m Back would have made a World Championships Semi Final!). Relays were 14 and under and 15 and over. All but two SWSC swimmers had achieved Division 1 times; the others Laoise Deasy and Peter Higgins were drafted to swim in relays (they were great). The meet was highly competitive with German and Danish Senior teams, and excellent swimmers from for example Hamilton Aquatics and Ealing. Our swimmers, other than those recovering from the Leaving Certificate (Luc Galland and Sharon Semchiy) were given a single aim “swim personal bests!” They responded magnificently!
Out of 100 swims over five days, 63 were PBs-including morning heat swims. This is the highest proportion of PBs at this competition in recent years. Photographs of medallists have already been displayed on this website, as has a recording of the club records broken. Munster records are currently being investigated.
Looking through the results (listed elsewhere on this site) four individuals stand out:
• Lauren Farr won several 12/13 medals (see photos below) competing in seven individual finals. Probably her most impressive performance was in the 200m Backstroke where she won by more than five meters and took 7.8 sec off her entry time recording 2:26.82.
• Ellen Lee won 14 year medals and swam a great 1:06.00 to take an emphatic win in the 100m Fly.
• Paul Higgins swam four finals in the 16 year age group winning two medals. The best of these was a 1st place in the 100 Fly in 58.76.
• Perhaps best of all were the Breast stroke performances by Andrew Feenan. Coming second in the very tough 17 and over age group he recorded a time of 2:20.91. He has progressed almost five seconds in this event since February!
Other great swims, looking at final places and/or major time improvements (using an alphabetical list and with apologies for anyone not mentioned) included:
• Laoise Deasy who swam in three relays, with Lauren and Rachel Farr and Ellen Lee, two of which won bronze medals, and reduced her 200m Freestyle by 12.15 sec in leading off the 14 and under 800 FR.
• Anna Feenan who made six finals in the 16 year age group and took 8.85 sec off her 400m Freestyle.
• Michael Feenan who made two 15 year finals and took 6.06 sec off his 200m Breast stroke.
• Marc Galland who swam three finals in the highly competitive 14 year age group and took 5.49 sec off his 400m Freestyle.
• Beth Nolan and Aoife O’Shea who each made two finals in the 17 and over and 16 year age groups respectively, with two of Beth’s swims being Club Records (see below).
• Luke O’Sullivan’s 1:58.9 in the 17 and older 200m Freestyle.
• James Ryan who made three 16 year age group finals and reduced his 200m Backstroke by 3.98 seconds.
• And Sharon Semchiy who made two 17 + finals and looked great for the first half of her races (looking forward to seeing you get your fitness back after the LC Sharon).
Coupled with excellent relay performances, and good swims from Sean and Cian O’Riordan, Rory Lee, Drew and Suzy Lynch, Penny Semple, Illan Wall and Rowan Walsh; this made for a great meet for SWSC!

Tom Cross

SWSC President

Scottish Open Championships – Aberdeen 2019

Multiple best times and two club records from our three girls swimming in the Scottish Open Nationals with the Munster Squad!

Despite being in the middle of heavy training for the Irish Summer Nationals, our three elite swimmers Anna Feenan, Ellen Lee and Beth Nolan performed very well at the Scottish Open Nationals last weekend. In this long course meet Anna had two PBs in the 100m F/c and 200 IM, Ellen improved her PBs in four events (100m F/c, 50m & 100m B/c, 100m Fly), while Beth had six PBs (50m F/c, 50m B/c, 50m & 200m Br/s, 50m & 100m Fly). In the Breast stroke events Beth broke two club records-the 50m which had been held for a decade by Lorna Cummins and her own 200m record set in January. In the latter event Beth also qualified for the B final in this highly competitive Open meet. Well done girls!

SWSC Committee

Positive Report on 2019 Irish Open Championships

Observations on the 2019 Long Course National Championships

These Championships were held over five days in the NAC Dublin at the end of March. There were World Class swims from Darragh Greene (100 & 200 breast stroke), Brendan Hyland (200 fly), Shane Ryan (100 back), Jordan Sloan &Jack McMillan (200 free) and Niamh Coyne (100 breast stroke). The most prominent visitor was Hanna Miley from Scotland. The previous European Champion and fourth place winner in the last two Olympic Games in the 400 IM is now 30, and still swimming well. She gave a master class in race preparation and won a large number of events.

The only downsides were the absence of relays and the lack of a club points competition. I believe that both of these issues are vital in fostering team spirit and will be raising their omission at the upcoming Swim Ireland AGM.

SWSC had 12 swimmers at this meet including Para brothers Sean and Cian O’Riordan. Both qualified for this summer’s Para World Championships and Sean in particular swam a great 400 free, beating the QT by four seconds. The team achieved 24 personal best times and reached 27 Senior or Youth (female 17 & U; male 18 & U) finals. All of their times are listed elsewhere on the website. Podium positions were reached by Andrew Feenan (3rd in the Youth 100 breast stroke), Ellen Lee (3rd in the Youth 50 back); Beth Nolan (3rd in the Youth 100 back & 200 breast stroke) and Aoife O’Shea (3rd in the Youth 400IM).

Beth also broke the SWSC record in the 100 breast stroke, and Paul Higgins swam under the minute for the first time in the 100 fly. (The first Irish Senior man to break the minute for the 100 SC fly was “Chalkie” White in Douglas in 1978). Special mention goes to Luc Gallant and Sharon Semskiy who competed despite being in the final stages of Leaving Cert preparation. Together they swam in four Senior finals.

So what did I, as a Sport Scientist, particularly note?

  • The best swimmers had a much more organised and extensive warm-up routine both on land and in the pool, than SWSC swimmers. They also had a much more vigorous pre-start routine (as exemplified by Hanna Miley) and did much more warm down swimming.
  • They are more powerful from extensive land work and more flexible in the shoulders, lower back, hips, knees and ankles.
  • They combine great conditioning with superb technique (see free daily GoSwim videos).

TFC                                                                                                                 8 April 2019

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SWSC Committee