Academy pupils swim to Ulster success

Banbridge Academy's Intermediate Girls relay team who got bronze  at the Swim Ulster Championships at the Aurora Aquatic Centre in Bangor. From left: Kate Allenby, Maria Lyons, Emma McElderry and Ellie Purdy.
Banbridge Academy's Intermediate Girls relay team who got bronze at the Swim Ulster Championships at the Aurora Aquatic Centre in Bangor. From left: Kate Allenby, Maria Lyons, Emma McElderry and Ellie Purdy.

Banbridge Academy sent a team of eager swimmers to Bangor Aurora Pool to compete in the Ulster Schools Gala.


First up were the Juniors’ Susannah Black and Finlay Wright who chose to swim the 50m events.

Susannah competed in the 50 breaststroke heats and qualified in seventh place for the finals later that day and finished seventh out of 43 swimmers.

Finlay competed in the 50 back crawl finishing 19th and had a personal best time in the 100 Medley event just missing out on the finals coming 11th.

Sundays events got underway with the Junior section, year 8, 9 and 10 all competing together.

Medals were awarded to overall winners as well as best in their year groups. Ruby McNiff just missed out on a place in the final with a time of 1:15.28 for the 100 back crawl, Rachel Blemmings swam a 1:19.69 and gained a gold medal in her year group. Kathryn McGrath had a 4.78 second pb to finish with a 1:21.40 and Aidin Quinn recorded a best time and also gained a bronze year group medal.

Lucy Hanna also competed for the first time in this event and set herself a new standard to beat.

In the Junior Boys back crawl, Banbridge was represented by Declan McGeown swimming a 5.87 sec PB.

The Breaststroke event saw Jessica Robinson make the final and finish in eighth. In the boys breaststroke event Ryan Bigley dropped 14 seconds and earned himself a place in the finals and a silver year group medal.

Adam Wilson also had a six second pb and gained a year group gold medal for Year Eight. Declan McGeown swam a two second best time in this event.

The next event was 100m fly.

Julia Knox, who has been selected to swim for Ulster Schools at next year’s Interpros, secured a place in the final. She managed to grab a bronze medal in the overall junior section and a gold medal in her age group.

In the 100 freestyle Ruby McNiff made the final and secured eighth place, close on her heels was Ellie Wright in 11th place. Kathryn McGrath had another five second best time.

Jessica Robinson and Lucy Hanna also competed in this event. In the boys section Ryan Bigley dropped 5 seconds of his best time to finish 13th.

Last in this section was the 200 IM, Julia Knox came second in the junior section and won gold in her year group, Rachel Blemmings also gained a silver year group medal and knocked two seconds off her PB.

Ellie Wright finished off a fine morning’s work with another impressive time in this event. On to the boys 200 IM Adam Wilson had a great pb and came 14th overall and secured his second year group gold medal.

The last events of the session were relays with the girls junior relay (R McNiff, J Robinson, J Knox, E Wright) winning a bronze medal beating their entry time by 17 seconds. The girls freestyle relay came fourth. The boys medley relay came 10th as did their freestyle relay.

Swim Ulster awarded Cups for the best school in each section and the Academy’s junior girls managed to come second to a very strong Methody.


The afternoon session saw the Intermediates (Year 10 & 11) and the Seniors (Year 12&13) compete in 100 m races.

First up was the Medley relay team (E McElderry, E Purdy, K Allenby, M Lyons) who secured a bronze medal with great swims all round.

The same swimmers didn’t get much rest and were on the blocks again within five minutes for the freestyle relay, this time they just missed out on the medals coming fourth.

Emma McElderry lead the way in the individual events with a good solid swim. Next up was the girls breaststroke with Emma swimming again along with Maria Lyons.

The girls were drawn in the same heat and were placed side by side with Maria just piping Emma by under a second. Maria’s time was a three second best time.

Kate Allenby swam the 100 fly next and qualified for the final in fourth place. She gained a silver medal in her year group after finishing seventh in the final.

Ellie Purdy and Maria Lyons competed in the 100 freestyle, Ellie finished fifth in the heats with a season best time and Maria managed to take off another second in her race. Ellie finished seventh in the final and secured a bronze year group medal.

The last event for this group was the 200 medley event for girls, Kate Allenby was the only swimmer entered and she qualified third for the final and just missed out on a podium place overall but she did get a year group bronze medal.

The final session of the day was for Senior swimmers, the senior girls medley team (K Hayes, E Purdy, K Allenby, E Smyth) just missed out on a medal coming fourth.

They were soon swimming again in the freestyle relay with Maria Lyons swapping places with Kate Allenby and this team also came fourth.

Ellie Purdy swam in the 400 FC and was placed fifth overall with a personal best time. In the boys 400 FC event Declan McGeown swam a massive 13 second PB.

Katie Hayes swam in the 100 back crawl managing 12th place, she also swam the 100 FC and came 12th, Erin Smith also swam the 100FC and achieved a two second PB.