NAC’s Irish gold-rush

by Stephen Findlater
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OVER 700 of Ireland’s top swimmers descended on the National Aquatic Centre for the Swim Ireland Irish Age Group Championships and Summer Open over five days last week, battling it out for the biggest titles on the domestic calendar.
The NAC hosts club, led by head coach Dave Malone and supported by coaches Hayley Burke and Shauna Mc Ginley, were one of the biggest clubs represented with 35 swimmers taking part, ranging from age 12 to 22.
Paralympic swimmers Ailbhe Kelly, Ellen Keane and Nicole Turner joined their teammates following a successful IPC World Series finishing in Berlin the previous week and they would combine to win 22 individual and seven relay medals.
The relay teams got the competition off to a great start with the girls 14 and under team claiming the first gold medal in the 400m freestyle event. The older boys’ and girls’ teams followed up in the evening with a bronze medal each in the same event.
Beth Gardiner claimed her first breaststroke title of the week in the 100m event, following it up on Thursday with another gold in the 200m breaststroke.
Another young swimmer, Matthew Walsh Hussey, got his campaign off to a winning start with a gold in the 200m freestyle, going on to win a further four medals; gold in 100m backstroke, silver in 200m backstroke and 400m freestyle and bronze in the 100m freestyle.
Senior swimmer Jessica Burke rounded off a successful season with a national title in the 800m freestyle, also taking home two silver and bronze medals.
Swimmers Ailbhe Dawson, Brian O’Sullivan, Cillian Colvin, Ciara Williams, Euan Maguire also claimed individual medals with all medallists featuring in their respective age group relay teams.
Stand out performances of the meet came from the relay teams with the girls 14 and under team claiming all 3 national titles. The boys 16 and over team secured the final gold medal of the weekend, storming to victory in the 400m medley relay.
Speaking at the end of the competition, Dave Malone said: “We have a dedicated group of athletes who work hard and support each other throughout the season, the medals and personal bests across this week is reward for the commitment they have shown.
“I would like to thank the National Sports Campus and their staff for their ongoing support, the NAC swim club coaching team and our club committee who work hard to ensure we have a sustainable and supportive environment for the young people in the club. We look forward to continuing to build on this success in the 2017-2018 season.”

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