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!
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!
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!