THE swimming season kicked off on October 21 for Banbridge ASC with the first Swim Ulster Development Gala which was held in Bangor Leisure Centre.
The role of these galas is to give younger swimmers their first taste of competitive swimming , enabling them to gain confidence and experience and also achieve times which will allow them to progress to the Swim Ulster Graded Galas and progress along the Swim Ulster competitive pathway.
The swimmers had a super start in their quest for success, with 10 medals being won throughout the day, and in addition, 38 top 10 places being achieved.
The meet started with the 200 IM event. Medals were won by Becki Pinkerton and Caitlin Kearney, who took silver and bronze in the 10 year old female group with times of 3.26.70 and 3.27.63 respectively.
Top 10 positions were achieved by Ruby McNiff, Zoe Kilpatrick, Eimear McMullan, Lauren Lyttle and Charlotte Campbell. In the male event, James Whan, Patrick Doyle, Declan McGeown, Christopher Morrow and Ryan Armstrong all had top 10 placings. Furthermore, Becki Pinkerton, Charlotte Campbell and Caitlin Kearney achieved Ulster Qualifying times.
Three more medals were won in the 100m backstroke. Julia Knox took gold in the 9 year old group with a time of 1.30.17, with Caitlin Kearney winning silver for the 10 year old girls in 1.35.56.Sophie Mount won bronze for the 11 year old girls in 1.31.58.
Ruby McNiff, Jessica Robinson, Becki Pinkerton, Lauren Lyttle, Charlotte Farson and Charlotte Campbell all achieved top 10 places. In the male event Patrick Doyle James Whan, Dawson Patterson, Declan McGeown, Ryan Armstrong and Harry Dougan all finished in the top 10 in their age groups. Julia Knox, Sophie Mount , Caitlin Kearney and Ryan Armstrong achieved Ulster Qualifying times with their performances.
The nine-year-old girls had fabulous swims in the 200 Backstroke producing two further medals. Julia Knox won gold in a time of 3.15.80 with Ruby McNiff claiming bronze in 3.29.51. Caitlin Kearney followed suit with 3rd place for the 10 year old girls in a time of3.23.44, and the medal tally for the girls in this event was completed with a gold medal for Sophie mount who achieved a time of 3.13.24.
The boys stepped up to the mark also with Ryan Armstrong winning gold for the 10 year old boys in a time of 3.17.85, with Harry Dougan taking the silver medal in 3.22.93. Top 10 places were achieved in this event by Jessica Robinson, Becki Pinkerton, Eimear McMullan, Lauren Lyttle, Declan McGeown and Christopher Morrow. The times achieved in this event meant that Julia Knox, Caitlin Kearney, Sophie Mount and Ryan Armstrong gained Ulster qualifying times.
The 100m Butterfly event resulted in a gold medal for Sophie Mount who swam a time of 1.41.30. Julia Knox and Becki Pinkerton won silver medals for this event, with times of 1.42.65 and 1.49.97 respectively. Zoe Kilpatrick, Caitlin Kearney, Lauren Lyttle and Eimear McMullan all gave good performances which gave them top 10 finishes. In the male event, Harry Dougan finished in 7th place in the 11-year-old group.
In the final event of the day, Charlotte Campbell competed in the 400M freestyle event and gained a silver medal with a time of 6.20.71.
The development gala protocol has meant that Julia Knox, Caitlin Kearney and Sophie Mount have now progressed to the next rung of the Swim Ulster ladder, and can take part in the forthcoming Graded Galas. Sophie Mount has also qualified for the Ulster Age Group Championships in 200M Backstroke, and Julia Knox has reached this target in both 100M and 200M backstroke. Furthermore Julia now has an Irish Division Two time for 100M backstroke.
Special mention must go to Dawson Patterson and Rachel Allenby - this was the first open gala for both and they both swam well .Thanks also to the coaches and parents who assisted at the gala.
Other hot off the press news is that the 2012/13 Swim Ulster Academy has been selected and Banbridge swimmers included in the squad are Harry Farson, Olivia Knox, Ellie Robinson, Patrick McNiff, Abbie McCullough, Jodie doyle, Jane Kilpatrick and Poppy Robinson. Well done to all the swimmers selected, particularly to harry Farson for qualifying for the first time.