Banbridge Amateur Swimming Club’s 28 talented athletes brought home a haul of medals from the Swim Ulster Qualifying Gala held in Lisburn last month.
Not only that, but there was also a flurry of fabulous personal bests and younger swimmers performed admirably in their qualifying gala debuts.
Ten-year old Jodie McMullen, originally from the Armagh Club, won three bronze medals in 50m butterfly, 200m freestyle and 100m backstroke.
It was an impressive gala for her and she is pursuing more Division One times. She carries over a time from last June in 100m breaststroke.
Ten-year old Ronan Quinn had a great start to the season in his first qualifying gala. He was well positioned in 400m freestyle and 100m breaststroke, coming in fourth. He was fifth in the 200m breaststroke, 200IM and 100m freestyle and seventh in 100m backstroke and 200m freestyle. Ronan has a Division Two time in 100m butterfly.
Four girls in the 11-year old age group performed to a high standard, particularly Rachel Blemmings. She won three gold medals and three silvers, narrowly missing several Division One times.
However, she will surely achieve these at the next gala. Her most impressive swim was a 43 second PB in 200m freestyle- one of her gold medals.
Sorcha Boersma swam a 12 second PB in the 200m freestyle. Clodagh McGrady swam five events for the first time and made a good impression. Jenny Morrow won a gold medal in 100m fly, taking off a nine seconds. She got PBs and top 10s in all four events.
Niall McGeown was in excellent shape and succeeded in obtaining PBs in seven events. He came fourth in 200IM, fifth in 100m and 200m backstroke. He took a massive 23 seconds off 200m freestyle, Finlay Wright was also on top of his game with a huge 43 seconds off 200m freestyle and 15 off 200IM.
Rachel Allenby swam five PBs including an impressive 26 seconds off her 200m backstroke and 14 seconds off 100m fly.
Julia Knox only swam two events as she already has many Div One times. She is on course for National Squad times and British Age Group times which she has to achieve in the two long course pool meets left. She won a gold medal in 400m freestyle taking off a superb 73 seconds.
Kathryn McGrath had a very productive weekend as she achieved seven PBs including 39 seconds off her 400m freestyle, 25 seconds off her 800m freestyle and 19 seconds off 200m freestyle and 400IM.
Ruby McNiff was ahead of her game with a fantastic collection of medals. She won her 100m freestyle, received silver medals in 200m backstroke and 400m freestyle and got third in 200m freestyle.
Jessica McMullen entered her firsts qualifying gala in four events while Aidín Quinn got lots of PBs, getting closer to Division Two.
The 12-year old boys include Jack Bingham, Dawson Patterson and Adam Wilson. Jack had a tremendous meet with six Division One times, including three golds, three silvers and a bronze. Following his birthday, he now has to swim for age 13-14 age group times.
Dawson achieved three top 10 positions and two PBs in 200m and 400m freestyle.
Adam swam the gruelling 400IM for the first and was rewarded with a gold medal.
The 13 year old girls included Maeve Cleland, Caitlin Kearney and Becki Pinkerton. Maeve won a gold in 200m fly, silver in 800m freestyle, 100m backstroke, 50m freestyle and 400m freestyle.
Becki swam a gruelling 11 events over the course of the weekend, swam 200m fly for the first time and achieved eight PBs.
She also won three golds, two silvers and three bronze medals as well as eight Division One times.
Declan McGeown swam an impressive eight events and achieved personal bests in all of them. He reduced his 100m fly time by 15 seconds and took 13 seconds off his 200m freestyle. He now moves to the 14 to 15 category for Limerick in June.
Kate Allenby was Bann’s only 14 year old girl at this gala and what an achiever she is! As well as huge PBs in almost every event, she won four gold medals and three silvers.
She took 24 seconds off her 400m freestyle, 11 off her 200m fly, nine seconds off her 200m backstroke and eight off her 200m freestyle.
As Kate has since turned 15 she moves up to the 15-16 bracket which makes it more difficult to achieve Division One times.
Harry Farson, Christopher Morrow and William Pinkerton, represented the 14 year-old boys.
Harry achieved three top 10s and swam PBs in every event but one. In his 200IM he almost took off 10 seconds.
Christopher swam two events and took off over 17 seconds in his 200IM!
William swam eight events and achieved PBs in six of them. He took off 11 seconds in his 200m freestyle. He is close to several Division One times.
Aaron Brown and Alex Donnelly were Bann’s 15 year-in this gala. Aaron swam the 100m backstroke and achieved a PB and a Division Two time into the bargain.
Alex has achieved three Division Two times but in June will move up to the 16-17 age group which makes the qualifying times much harder.
Finally, Ross Johnston, Bann’s only competitive 16 year-old, swam four events and successfully achieved personal bests in all four.
He won a silver medal in 100m backstroke and a bronze in 200m backstroke. The backstroke events are his strongest events.
These are also Division One times, which are hard going at this stage when exams are a priority.
“Thank you everyone for pulling your weight,” said the club.
“To our Qualifying gala coaches, Graham, Davey Wilson, Fiona and Stephen Farson, to our parents on poolside, working as time keepers, marshals, turn judges, stroke judges, starters or referees - without your assistance, Banbridge Amateur Swimming club wouldn’t look so good! See you at the next Qualifying gala, the Long course event in February!”