Lisburn City Swimming Club’s junior swimmers were in action last Sunday night, in Lisburn, against current Champions Templemore ASC, in what was to be one of the most crucial competitions of the 2011 Aquasprints League.
The League, sponsored by Forest Feast, sees young swimmers aged 8 to 12 years, from across Northern Ireland, compete in a range of relays and 25m individual races for the title of 2011 Aquasprints Champion.
With Lisburn in the top section of the League, local swimmers have swum against the very top young swimmers in the Province throughout the season. Sunday night’s event, at the Lagan Valley LeisurePlex, saw a place in the finals up for grabs if the Lisburn team could secure a win so the stakes were high and the pressure on as Lisburn took to the water.
The 40 strong team of young athletes rose to the occasion and met the challenge with a focus and determination that belied their tender ages.
The first set of events was the mixed medley relays with the youngest ‘A’ Group swimmers under starter’s orders first. While for some this was their first real experience of competitive swimming, the nerves did not show and these eight and nine year olds took a comfortable first place. This superior display was to set the pace for the remainder of the Relays with Groups B, C and D all bringing maximum points for the home team with impressive performances from all.
The first of the individual events, the 25m ‘A’ backstroke was a fiercely contested race with Lisburn’s Leah Bethel taking first place and swimming partner Nadine Pollock in third. It was a 1, 2 for the Boys ‘A’ Team with Paul Cox and Conor Quinn bringing maximum points to Lisburn. The competition in the B Girls proved very strong on the evening with Katie Tollerton and Caoli Maginess finishing 3rd and 4th while the B Group’s Cameron Loan and Jamie Allison again secured maximum points for the local club with a 1, 2 finish. Next up was the C group Girls with Rachel Bethel taking first place and Aimee Doak in fourth.
The C Group’s Andrew Edgar was third while Dariush Abelehkoob was fourth. Lisburn’s D Group swimmers reacted swiftly with maximum points allocated to the Lisburn swimmers in the oldest ‘D’ Group to Amy Seawright (Team Captain) and Nikhita Dowie and Keelan Logan (Team Captain) and Neil Saulters.
In the breaststroke events there were also a number of fine performances. First place finishes were secured by Paul Cox, Namona Teggart and Keelan Logan while Nadine Pollock, Jack Harte, Nikhita Dowie and Leon Eley all secured important second place points. The points kept coming with Leah Bethel, Cameron Forrest, Caoli Maginess, Emily Estler, Jamie Allison, Aimee Doak, Dariush Abelehkoob, Robbie Johnston and Sarah McCracken also scoring for Lisburn.
At the half way point Lisburn’s score was a very promising 112 to Templemore’s 88.
Next up were the butterfly events. Lisburn’s fine form continued with wins from Cameron Loan, Rachel Bethel, Dariush Abelehkoob , Nikhita Dowie and Keelan Logan, with second place points to Nadine Pollock and Ben Harding in the A Group, Jack Harte in the B Group and Amy Seawright and Neil Saulters in the D Group. Leah Bethel, Conor Quinn, Rebecca Woods, Caoli Maginess, Charlie Kenny and Namona Teggart were also placed in their respective age groups. The gap between Lisburn and Templemore was widening…
In the last of the individual events Templemore needed to curb the formidable Lisburn Team which had rarely put a foot wrong all evening but Lisburn were not prepared to give anything away. The A Group girls, Leah Bethel and Nadine Pollock came home 1 and 2 with their training partner Conor Quinn also winning his race. It was another first and second in the B Group Boys with the partnership of Jamie Allison and Jack Harte. Success continued in the C Group Girls with another 1, 2 from the very successful partnership of Rachel Bethel and Namona Teggart who collectively are unbeaten this Aquasprints season. First and second place became a regular pattern in these events with Keelan Logan and Alex Harte taking maximum points in the D Boys with Amy Seawright and Nikhita Dowie just pipped into second and third place.
At the end of the individual events, with a score of Lisburn 203 to Templemore’s 157 Lisburn were unbeatable but the team weren’t finished yet as it entered the usually ‘make or break’ freestyle relay events.
Ending the evening as they had begun it, the Lisburn Squad took maximum points across all four age group relay. The final score Lisburn 231 to Templemore’s 169.
Special mention must also be made of the many swimmers who swam throughout the evening including Abbie Crookshanks, competing in her very first gala, Anna Monteith, Emma Montgomery, Bobby Seawright, Oliver Chambers, Nathan Doak, Cameron McDowell, Victoria Hunter, Rosie Collins, Catriona Marsh, Sophie Bryson, Conor Monteith and Henry Tolerton.
Lisburn City Swimming Club Chairperson, Mrs Betty Beattie, said that the swimmers had put in an outstanding performance against the current Aquasprint title holders.
“Congratulations to all our junior swimmers who took part, not just in this Gala but in the recent Junior Ards Gala and Keith Buchanan Memorial relays. Their effort, commitment and teamwork have been outstanding and I’d like to thank the coaches and parents for supporting and encouraging our swimmers throughout the season,” said Betty.
Lisburn’s win ensures the Club a place in this year’s Aquasprints Final which will take place at the Lagan Valley LeisurePlex on Friday 3rd June. Good Luck to all.