Happy New Year to all!
Competitive progress has been great during the first half of the 2019/2020 season. This has been aided by a new squad system featuring Senior, Intermediate and Junior squads. The aim is to provide a system that allows all competitors to improve as much as possible. What’s required is 100% attendance. As the Director of the American Swimming Coaches Association says the secret to swimming is “Turn up”. From time to time individuals are sick or injured. If this happens the coaches need to know in advance. So for the rest of the year let’s try for maximum attendance from everyone. If you only attend half of the sessions your improvement will be about 20% of what it could be. Competitive swimming is like other endurance activities-you have to put in the training hours!
Two of our most prominent Seniors have major competitions this month:
Andrew Feenan, the only Cork swimmer on the Swim Ireland Performance Pathway squad aiming at the 2024 Paris Olympics, competes with the Irish team in an International Meet in Geneva from January 17 to 19. We wish him well in this competition after his excellent performances in the Short Course Nationals.
UCC scholarship holder Sean O’Riordan, who competed for Ireland at last year’s Para World Championships, is on a possible panel for the Paralympics in Tokyo in both the 400m Freestyle and 100m Breast stroke. He will attempt automatic qualification at the Leinster Long Course Championships in Dublin on January 18 and 19. The qualification times are extremely tough with only one Irish para-swimmer pre-qualifying. Sean is continuing to improve so we wish him the best in this and other competitions later in the spring.
The Short Course (25m) Nationals is a Senior meet with A and B finals. This year standards were very high with 55 Irish Short Course Records being set between this meet and the European SC Championships held in Glasgow the previous week. Swimmer of the meet had to be Danielle Hill with great Irish Records in the 100 m freestyle and backstroke. She is a great example of how fast females can swim if they persist through their teens.
Personal Bests: Sundays Well, with a team of 19 (12 males and seven females) despite the tough qualifying times, had what chief coach Richard Cassidy described as “the best overall performances he can recall”. This team, with the exception of James Ryan, who had to retire sick after the first day (hope you’re better now James) had an amazing total of 77 Personal Bests out of 101 heat and final swims. That’s a 76% PB rate compared with 63% in the Summer Nationals last July. Particularly, the vast majority of swimmers improved from morning heats to evening finals. Three swimmers, Liam Custer, Lauren Farr and Andrew Feenan, achieved PBs in all of their swims. (The actual results are given elsewhere on this website.)
Finals: There were 16 places in A finals and 24 in B individual finals, a great showing in a Senior meet. Liam swam in six A finals, Lauren, at 13 years old, in four B finals and Andrew, the only Cork swimmer on the Swim Ireland Performance Pathway squad, in four A and one B final. In addition, Anna Feenan competed in one A and two B finals, Paul and Peter Higgins both in three B finals, Ellen Lee in one A and one B final, her brother Rory in one B final, Beth Nolan in three A and two B finals, Aoife O’Shea and Luke O’Sullivan in one and four B finals respectively, and Sharon Semchiy in one A and two B finals. Also our relays finished between third and eighth in all six events (two male, two female and two mixed 200m FR and MR). These events often featured 20+ year old European and World class swimmers.
Medals: The outstanding individual medallist for SWSC was Liam Custer. Liam, who was born in 2004 and is a dual Irish and USA passport holder, won silver medals in the 800 and 1500 freestyle and 400 IM, and a bronze in the 200 back stroke. He also teamed up with the Higgins brothers and Andrew Feenan, when they won a hotly-contested bronze medal in the Men’s 200 Freestyle relay.
Records: Liam set six new club records (400, 800 and 1500 freestyle, 200 and 400 IM and 200 back stroke); Andrew Feenan the 50, 100 and 200 breast stroke (breaking the records set by our International swimmer Dan Sweeney who is now coaching with SWSC); Paul Higgins the 100 butterfly; Beth Nolan, the 50, 100 and 200 breast stroke and Luke O’Sullivan the 200 freestyle (see the Records section of the website). These are just the final records. Some had also been reduced by the same or other swimmers earlier in the meet. Again this was the highest number of SWSC records set at an individual meet.
Finally Paralympic possible Sean O’Riordan swam his best 400 Freestyle yet and inched closer to the very tough QT for Tokyo (well done Sean).