A Trojan effort

by Stephen Findlater

TROJAN Swimming Club enjoyed a record-breaking weekend at the Dave McCullagh Memorial Trophy in Bangor with medals won and records broken.

The club had their highest ever entry in the competition with 21 swimmers reaching qualifying times for this international event, which also featured a number of the British team, including world and European record holder Adam Peaty along with many Irish Olympic hopefuls.

Chief among the achievements came from the 4x200m freestyle relay team of Aisling Rowlands, Caoimhe Dowling, Grace Hodgins and Nemone Rogers, who broke the Irish Junior Club record with their time of 8:48.44.

In a cracking race, they were only beaten to the gold medal by Ards who took six seconds off the previous Irish senior record, held since 2013 by UCD, with a blistering pace of 8:28.85.

On the individual front, day two proved a spectacular one as Grace Hodgins – aged just 15 – produced an incredible swim to finish in runners-up position in the 800m freestyle.

In an epic race, less than a second covered the first three finishers who went stroke for stroke throughout the contest with Ards’ Amelia Kane coming home in first, touching the wall in 9:09.32.

Hodgins came in 9:09.93, out-reaching Perth City’s Katherine Bailey in 9:10.02.

Hodgins also took bronze in the 1,500m freestyle, making it a weekend to remember for her on an individual front.

Again, it was a fierce battle with Bailey and Kane with the latter winning the gold with six seconds to spare over Bailey.

Hannah Poynton, aged 12, was another youngster to land a medal as she took bronze in the girls 200m butterfly in a time of 2:46.64.

Outside of the medalists, the club also recorded 20 club records over the four days of competition, much to the pleasure of the coaching team of Jonathan Preston, Niamh Byrne and Lucy Gaynor.

That included 96 swims and 17 final appearances and their performances played a role in a memorable weekend all round.

Swim Ireland’s national performance director Jon Rudd said of the event: “This last four days of competition has provided all of the athletes here with an excellent racing platform into their upcoming Olympic Trials.

“The environment for racing in Bangor is first-class and the format of the competition along with the slick and professional operation of it could not be better for what coaches and athletes are looking for at this stage of the season.”

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