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Sports : Castlebar Swimming Club Last Updated: 2, Apr 2018 - 10:02

Swimming Club News - 2 Sep 2014
8, Sep 2014 - 09:04

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Castlebar swimmers shine through in Dublin

IF you were to focus on a week in the life of Castlebar Swimming Club, you'd be hard-pushed to find a week that wasn't action-packed with training and lessons, and more training, and still more training. For every hour that swimmers spend in the water - and there are many such hours - there are the accompanying hours of coaching, and lesson plans, and analysis, gala entries, and year planning. But there's one week in particular towards the end of the swimming year that always stands out - the last national competition on the Swim Ireland calendar.

Tommy Huang

Ronan Dervan

Patrick Livingstone

Sean O'Connor

Nathan Rennick

Siofra McHale

Paula McDonagh

Niamh Heneghan

Sinead Mylett Medal Division 1

Heather Fadden

Jamie Murphy relaxes after breaking the minute barrier in the 100m freestyle.

Siofra Horan

Mark Dervan - Gold and bronze medals at Division 1.

Saoirse Hoban in action in the butterfly at Division 1.

Laura Fahy

Hazel Coen

Cillian Melly: Bronze medal at Division 1.

Edel Egan

Hannah Grady

Conor Melly

Coaches Marian English and Joe Moran pictured with senior swimmers Aisling Grady and Eoghan Grady.

This summer, 24 Castlebar swimmers - the highest ever number to compete at this level - swam their hearts out at the Irish Age Group Championships, better known as Division 1, held annually at the National Aquatic Centre in Dublin. With 103 clubs and more than 900 athletes taking part, it was also the biggest event Swim Ireland had ever run, and featured swimmers from as far afield as South Africa, Singapore, Oman, Abu Dhabi and Dubai. Clubs closer to home who also participated included those from Italy, England and Scotland.

For a club the size of Castlebar to contribute two dozen swimmers into the mix represented quite the achievement, and all of those taking part represented their club tremendously well. There were medals and PBs (personal bests) galore, but as with any competition there were also the near misses, and the disappointment of goals not being reached. The tenacity and determination of these highly dedicated young swimmers, who throw themselves back into the water week in, week out, through highs and lows and peaks and valleys, is surely a force to be reckoned with.


This year at Division 1, an extra evening of competition was held, in order to run off the two marathon swims of the event - the women's 800m freestyle and the men's 1500m freestyle. Saoirse Hoban was the first Castlebar swimmer to take to the water, and she was to set the standard for the rest of her events - gaining a very respectable seven-second PB to finish on 10:49.32. Her team-mate Hannah Grady, swimming in the same heat, took a whopping 26 seconds off her previous best time to finish on 10:50.48. In the next age group, Edel Egan also gained an impressive 10-second PB to finish on 10:21.88. While Paula McDonagh didn't manage to improve on her previous best time, she still accomplished a fine swim and finished well under the ten-minute mark on 9:53.36.

Next up was the 1500m freestyle - which for the uninitiated is 30 lengths in a 50 meter pool (such as the National Aquatic Centre) or 60 lengths in a regular 25m swimming pool - a challenging swim by any standards. Eoghan Grady and Cillian Melly claimed silver and bronze in their age group, finishing on 16:38.73 and 16:55.13 respectively, with Cillian recording a five-second PB. Over the next few days of competition, Eoghan went on to record PBs in the 50m freestyle (25.95) and the 400m freestyle (4:06.34 in a tightly-contested final which saw him claim a gold medal in his age group), while he also qualified for the 200m freestyle finals, where he improved on his heat time (1:57.16) and landed a silver medal for his troubles.

Cillian Melly also had a very good few days of competition - qualifying for the 200m fly final, in which he recorded a PB of 2:10.28, and the 100m fly final in which he broke the minute to record a PB of 59.80. He also made it into the 400m freestyle final, but his time of 4:16.12 wasn't an improvement on his previous PB. His biggest time improvement of the competition came in the 200m backstroke, held on the final day of competition, where he achieved a 21-second PB of 2:21.61.

There was success also for Sinead Mylett, who made it through the preliminary heats and semi-finals to qualify for the finals in the 50m backstroke, where she achieved a PB of 31.37. The 100m freestyle saw her through to another final and another PB of 59.26. An even bigger PB, and a silver medal to boot, came in the 200m backstroke, where Sinead took almost two seconds from her previous best time to finish on 2:25.59. The following day, she was back in the medal action, scooping a second silver in the 100m backstroke and achieving another PB of 1:06.99. Her final swim of the competition, the 200 IM, saw her claim a place in the final and another impressive PB of 2:28.61.

Saoirse Hoban was back in action in the 100m fly, finishing on a very impressive 1:17.08 to record a two-and-a-half second PB. She notched up another PB in the 200m freestyle (2:29.42) and the talented young swimmer took six seconds from her PB in the 200m fly final to finish on 2:47.42 which earned her a well-deserved bronze medal. There were two more PBs to come from Saoirse - in the 100m freestyle (1:08.63), the 400m freestyle (5:12.98) and a whopping 22-second improvement in the 200 IM (2:50.33).

Sean O'Connor also enjoyed a good competition - recording a PB of 1:23.61 in the 100m breaststroke, and taking an impressive 13 seconds off his time in the 100m fly (1:15.67). He improved on his 200m breast stroke time by 13 seconds to finish on 3:05.41 and took a whopping 25 seconds off his 200IM time to finish on 2:40.90. His final PB of the competition was in the 200m backstroke, where he recorded 2:46.79, a 16-second PB.

Tommy Huang, who gained his three Division 1 times at this year's Division 2 competition in Limerick in June, held his own in the 50 metre pool, and finished well, recording 1:34.12 in the 100m breaststroke, 1:22.09 in the 100m fly, and 3:30.41 in the 200m breaststroke. No doubt it's not the last we'll be hearing from this talented young swimmer.


Brothers Mark and Ronan Dervan also had some fine swims over the few days of competition. Mark's first swim saw him coming first in his heat to qualify for the finals of the 100m breaststroke, where he finished on a PB of 1:11.92 and gained a bronze medal. Another PB followed in the 400 IM (5:20.68), and his performance in the 200m breast stroke was strong enough to win him a gold medal for his PB of 2:36.43. He gained additional PBs in the 200m freestyle (2:15.12), the 400m freestyle (4:46.15), the 100m backstroke (1:11.51), the 200IM (2:29.63) and the 100m freestyle (1:00.16). His younger brother Ronan finished on a respectable 1:34.35 in the 100m breaststroke, achieved 3:17.58 in the 200m breaststroke, and 3:14.06 in the 200m backstroke.

There were PBs also for Jamie Murphy, who took two-and-a-half seconds off his previous best time in the 100m breast to finish on 1:21.76. Jamie's 400 IM time was 5:38.71, and he had a five-second PB in the 200m breaststroke. The 200m freestyle brought another PB (2:17.10), as did the 400m free (4:49.76) and the 200IM (2:33.83), while an almighty effort saw him richly rewarded in the 100m freestyle when he broke the minute-barrier and finished on 59.28.

Castlebar's Nicholas Quinn, now based at Edinburgh University but still flying the Castlebar colours in national competitions, also competed at Division 1, in advance of his showing at the European Swimming and Open Water Championships in Berlin this month. Nicholas qualified for finals in all three of his events, and his 1:03.36 in the 100m breaststroke won him a bronze medal, while he took silver in the 200m breaststroke for his time of 2:18.04, and a splits PB of 28.97 in the 50m breaststroke saw him take another bronze medal.

There was bronze also for Patrick Livingstone in the 200m breaststroke, who swam a splits PB of 2:33.33 in the final. Patrick just missed out on a PB in the 100m breast stroke (1:12.29), but made up for it in the 400 IM, where he achieved an eight-second PB of 5:08.82. He qualified for another final in the 200 IM, and improved further on the PB he achieved in the preliminary heat (2:20.37) to finish on 2:18.14.

Hannah Grady performed strongly in the 200m breaststroke to achieve an eight-second PB of 3:13.07, and also recorded an impressive time of 2:32.01 in the 200m freestyle. Further PBs followed in the 100m breaststroke (1:31.22), the 400 IM (6:04.88), the 200m backstroke (2:50.62), the 100m backstroke (1:21.41) and the 200 IM (2:49.98). Her sister Aisling Grady also enjoyed a successful few days of competition, achieving a solid PB in the 200m breaststroke of 3:00.30, and PBs also in the 200m backstroke (2:41.92) and the 200m IM (2:41.920).


Not long back from the European Junior championships in Holland, where she qualified for the 200m breaststroke final, Dearbhail McNamara scooped a gold medal for her performance at Division 1, recording a time of 2:34.68, not quite up there with her overall best time for this event, but a very impressive finish nonetheless. The 100m breaststroke, which she completed in 1:13.34, earned her a second gold. Dearbhail's next competition outing is at the World Youth Olympics in Nanjing, China where she was set to be one of just three swimmers representing Ireland.

Hazel Coen had a great Division 1 competition - achieving a three-and-a-half second PB in the 200m breaststroke to finish on 3:06.76. She recorded further PBs in the 100m breaststroke (1:25.56) and in the 200 IM (2:41.89). There were some very impressive times also from Heather Fadden, who took off almost eight seconds in the 200m breaststroke to finish on 3:08.90. Another PB followed in the 100m breaststroke (1:26.38) and Heather also swam well in the 200m backstroke to finish on 2:58.00.

Siofra Horan qualified for the final in the 200m breaststroke, and while she didn't improve on her previous best time, she finished in a solid time of 2:59.04. Her other events were the 100m breaststroke, where she recorded 1:24.61 and the 50m breaststroke where she finished on 39.58. There were some solid swims also from Conor Melly, who recorded 5:41.07 in the 400 IM, and finished on 4:59.75 in the 400m freestyle. His 200m backstroke saw him achieve a two-second PB of 2:39.35.

After her PB on the opening evening, Edel Egan was back in the water on day two - achieving another PB in the 200m freestyle (2:21.08). She just missed out on a PB in the 100m freestyle, but finished strongly on 1:05.44, and earned a splits PB in the 400m freestyle of 4:59.78. Paula McDonagh, who has had a great year of PBs, was back in the pool in the 200m freestyle, where she finished on 2:18.26. She added the barest of splits onto her previous PB in the 100m free to finish on a still very impressive time of 1:04.65, and finished out the competition in the 400m freestyle (4:50.37).

Despite missing several weeks of training due to injury, Laura Fahy acquitted herself remarkably well, adding mere splits on to her previous best time in the 200m freestyle (2:21.63), and managing to gain an incredible four PBs in the 100m freestyle (1:03.99), the 200m backstroke (2:44.46), the 400m freestyle (5:05.55) and the 200 IM (2:45.78).

Niamh Heneghan's PB in the 50m backstroke saw her qualify for a semi-final, where she improved her time again from the preliminary time of 33.17 to finish on 32.79. A second well-deserved PB came in the 200m backstroke, where Niamh finished on 2:37.88, and she qualified for a final in the 100m backstroke, finishing on 1.11.53. There were PBs also for Nathan Rennick, who took almost nine seconds off in the 200 IM to finish on 2:35.35, and ten seconds off in the 200m backstroke (2:36.84), while adding just a couple of splits on in the 100m fly (1:09.97). Siofra McHale also swam well, achieving PBs in the 400 IM (5:55.39), the 200m backstroke (2:43.01) and the 100m backstroke (1:16.77). She also competed in the 200 IM (2:49.11).

Sadly, there was no podium finish for either the boys or the girls relay team this time around, but as the competition drew to a close, and the swimmers prepared to disperse and begin the journey back home, there was much to reflect on and much to be pleased about after yet another strong showing by Castlebar Swimming Club at a national competition. For coaches Marian English and Joe Moran, who continue to make the biggest sacrifices of all, week in and month out, the commitment levels are staggeringly demanding, but they continue to toil away quietly. They, and their swimmers, have much to be proud of.

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