Excellent effort by Lisburn swimmers

LISBURN City Swimming Club sent a team of nine swimmers to attend the recent Dave McCullagh Memorial meet in Dublin’s NAC under the supervision of their Coach Richard Gheel and Team Manager Wendy Smyth.

The young team of Rachel Smyth, Peter Sands, Sarah O’Callaghan, Paige McKeown, Chloe Richards, Natasha Pollock, Fiona Cash, Rachel Bethel and Nikhita Dowie were up against some very stiff competition as swimmers attended from Scotland, Wales, Zimbabwe, Portugal and Spain. The Celtic Tri-Nations was also on this weekend which included Scotland, Wales and Ireland, with nominated swimmers collecting points for each team. Ireland were the overall winners and Lisburn’s Beth Carson, representing Ireland, claimed a well deserved Gold in the ladies 100 butterfly swimming 1.00.75, just outside her current pb.

Club Captain, Peter Sands returned to competition with force, having been ill for most of the season, by securing his British Youth Championships qualifying time in his 400IM with a fantastic swim in 4.46.50. This time also qualified Peter for the Irish National Youth Development Squad in Dublin and also a Lisburn Club Record. What a perfect start to the weekend. Peter went on to qualify for finals in 100 back, 400IM, 200 back and 200IM with pb’s in all his events.

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Rachel Bethel, the youngest swimmer in the team, had a fantastic weekend of swimming, making the B finals for the 100 and 200 free, breaking Club records in both events. Rachel had an outstanding swim in the 200 free in 2.10.76 which would certainly place her inside the top five at the British Age Group Championships in July.

Rachel has already qualified for this competition in several events and is looking forward to the challenge this level of competition will present. Rachel swam the 400 free in 4.42.57, also qualifying for the final but unfortunately had to withdraw as she had to head back to Lisburn to swim in the Aquasprint League the same evening.

Fiona Cash and Paige McKeown were swimming in their first long course competition in Dublin. Fiona made her mark at the competition by swimming 100 free, 200 free and 400 free in new personal best times, breaking the 5 minute barrier in her 400 free in a time of 4.58.81. Paige set new pb’s in 50 back, 100 back, 50 free and 400 free. Paige qualified for the 50 back B final on the first day of the competition. Natasha Pollock got off to a slow start in the competition in her 100 free and after a bout of sickness immediately before her 200 butterfly, Natasha went on to qualify for the B final in this event and swam a fantastic 2.27.51 in the final. She also swam a pb in her 200 free and made the B final in 100 butterfly, just missing out on her British Youth qualifying time by 0.12 secs.

The eldest member of the Team, 18 year old Sarah O’Callaghan enjoyed great success at the competition. Sarah swam pb’s in 100 backcrawl 1.13.10, 800 free by breaking the 10 minute barrier in 9.57.56 and qualifying for the B final in the 400 free in a new pb of 4.50.30.

Rachel Smyth did not have the best of competitions this weekend. Her main event of 100 butterfly was on the last day of competition so she had a light programme throughout.

Rachel qualified for finals in all her events, 200 butterfly, 200 free and 100 butterfly with a new pb in 200 butterfly of 2.32. 07. Unfortunately she couldn’t better her 100 butterfly time of 1.08.59 in the final and therefore, just missed out on her British Youth qualifying time.

Chloe Richards was another swimmer trying to qualify for the British Championships and she too, just missed out with her 200 backcrawl, qualifying for the final and swimming a new pb of 2.28.53, but unfortunately was just a few seconds outside the required time. Chloe swam a brilliant 100 backcrawl in a new time of 1.09.28 qualifying for the B final.

Nikhita Dowie joined the team for the last day of the competition swimming in the 200IM 2.48.70 and 400 free 5.12.95 at her first ‘big’ long course gala.

The Lisburn team did themselves proud against much older swimmers and proved their dedication to training and coaching from Head Coach Richard Gheel, is paying dividends. After a few days rest, the swimmers are now back into their training cycle for the next 12 weeks in preparation for the Irish Championships in July.