NAC stars shine at home

by Gazette Reporter

 sport@dublingazette.com

NAC swimmers produced fine performances last weekend at the Swim Ireland national age group championships in the National Aquatic Centre, an event with over 900 entrants taking part, representing over 100 clubs.
It was the biggest championships Swim Ireland has ever run at the Dublin 15 venue with 3,762 individual and 151 relay swims taking place over the five days. The competition caters for swimmers from as young as eight right up to an open age group with the oldest competitor being 43 this year.
High performance swimmer Melanie Houghton was among the stars, picking off four titles, the sprint specialist closing out the weekend with the 50m butterfly on Sunday to add to the 50m and 100m freestyle, as well as the 100m butterfly.
Earlier in the meet, Houghton had led home a 1,2,3 finish for the NAC High Performance Centre swimmers with a 56.97 in the 100m freestyle, followed by Bethany Carson (58.50) and in third place was Clodagh Flood (58.76).
Carson has been working hard to come back from a serious ankle injury and is starting to see the awards of her recent move to living on the National Sports Campus in Abbotstown.
Living so close to her support team in the National Aquatic Centre and Irish Institute of Sport, including physiotherapist Sarah Jane McDonnell, has helped her to recover quickly and prepare for the challenge of next season.
Clodagh Flood won the gold medal she has been looking for in the girls 400m freestyle. The Tallaght native had two bronze and two silver medals earlier in the competition but there was no stopping her in the 400m freestyle as she put in a great second 200m to win in a time of 4.24.16.
On day one, Houghton had two seconds to spare over Clodagh Flood in the 100m butterfly before adding the 50m breaststroke while she also played her part in Aer Lingus’s 4x100m bronze medal winning relay team.
In the men’s 50m breaststroke, Olympian Barry Murphy returned to the pool after a busy year to retain his breaststroke sprinting title. Murphy will also be heading to next month’s Senior European Championships and the win will give him confidence before heading to Germany.
Brendan Hyland saw off his NAC team mate Brendan Gibbons, meanwhile, in the 400m freestyle final in a close run battle, Hyland edging it in a time of 4.01.60 just 0.45 seconds ahead of Gibbons in one of the closest races of the gala.

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