Sunday’s Well Swimming Club was born from the rugby section in 1924

Sunday’s Well Swimming Club was born from the rugby section in 1924
Sunday's Well Swimming Club silver medallists in 4 x 50m Freestyle relay at the Dolphin Open: Conal Gillard, Dylan Gunn, David O'Leary and Sean Semchiy with coaches Kelly Gallagher and Frank Lynch.

SUNDAY’S Well Swimming Club was founded in 1924 by members of Sunday’s Well Rugby Club, as they felt it would be a great way to keep members active over the summer break.

The club base is situated at the Gus Healy Pool in Douglas and over the years the club was grown in strength, numbers, and has enjoyed great competitive success.

The club was honoured for services to the community and granted the right to use the Arms of the City as their crest by Cork Corporation. The motto of Cork city is ‘Statio Bene Fide Carinis’: A Safe Harbour for Ships.

The home club of this correspondent, SWSC is one of the biggest swimming clubs in Ireland and sits high on the rankings for competitive success. One of the clubs most recent major achievements was victory at the Women’s 4x100m and 4x200m Freestyle relays at 2017 Nationals.

The club has continued the tradition of excellent team performances with victory in all the relay events at the Gerry Ryan Gala in January 2020.

The club has had many international successes over its lifetime, most recently courtesy of Sean O’Riordan winning the European Para Championships in Dublin in 2018 and the World Para Championships in London last year.

He has also competed at a number of World Series events. Andrew Feenan is currently the only Cork representative on a National squad.

He was a member of the Irish team in Geneva last January.

Ally Cunningham and Issie Hayes were members of the Irish team at European Junior Championships, Budapest 2016. A number of club athletes have competed at the International Schools, including Cunningham, Hayes, Emma Cassidy, and Sharon Semchiy. Cunningham and Hayes were members of the victorious Irish relay in 2015.

Going back a little further, Dan Sweeney, now back coaching with the club, and Lee Kelleher were members of Irish senior teams at World University Games and World Championships respectively.

The aim of the club is to continue to enhance the tradition of competitive excellence. SWSC is currently organised in a series of four groups forming a pyramid of progression, under the overall management of director of coaching and teaching Richard Cassidy.

The base layer consists of the Learn to Swim programme managed by head teacher Tammy Kenny. She is assisted by a group of qualified teachers, catering for children mostly in the five to eight age group.

The junior squad, caters for seven- to 10-year-olds, where basic competitive skills are taught and reinforced, as well as initiating training for endurance and speed.

Athletes then progress to the intermediate squad, up to the age of 13. They train several times each week and focus on Regional and some National competitions. The organisation of these squads is undertaken by international masters swimmer Rob Lamb, Kelly Gallagher, and Frank Lynch.

Sunday Well Swimming Club's bronze medalists in 4 x 50m freestyle relay at the Irish Short Course Championships. Liam Custer, Peter Higgins, Paul Higgins and Andrew Feenan with coaches Tom Cross and Richard Cassidy.
Sunday Well Swimming Club's bronze medalists in 4 x 50m freestyle relay at the Irish Short Course Championships. Liam Custer, Peter Higgins, Paul Higgins and Andrew Feenan with coaches Tom Cross and Richard Cassidy.

The top competitive squad consists of more than 30 athletes all of whom are SI Division 1 qualified, ranging in age from 13 to 21. Unusual for club swimming in Ireland, the senior squad includes five UCC students, including top triathlete James Mintern.

This squad train for seven two-hour sessions each week with additional land conditioning. They have extra Regional or National sessions and a week of intensive long course training in Spain.

The senior squad is coached by Richard Cassidy. He is assisted by Dan Sweeney and club president Professor Tom Cross.

The senior squad also benefits by having international member Liam Custer join it at national competitions. Liam, whose grandfather comes from Carrigaline, is eligible to swim for Ireland. He currently lives and trains in Florida and is one of the leading 15-year-olds in the USA.

The current chair is Eamon Curtin, whose wife and four children swam with the club.

The club also have a large and successful Masters section attracting many swimmers who have retired from competitive swimming.

Eamon is keen to stress that the club “strive to maintain a voluntary ethos.”

“Dozens of volunteers contribute to the club as committee members, team managers, organisers and administrators. Many represent the club at the highest echelons of the organisation. Mary Haughney is just coming to the end of a four-year term as board secretary and is also a FINA referee.

“Denis Galland is a national starter and Michael Murphy is a probabionary judge. We have a number of Level 2 qualified team managers, including Noelle Cassidy, Patricia Feenan, Mary Haughney, and Iryna Semchiy. Mary has had a number of assignments with National teams and Patricia had her first National assignment when she accompanied the Irish team to Geneva in January 2020.

“Our 30 or so qualified teachers and coaches provide over 35 hours of coaching/teaching every week.

“They have maintained that activity during this lockdown by providing online sessions to help swimmers remain connected with friends, engaged with the club and maintain swim fitness.

“All of the progression has been interrupted by the pandemic. While the lockdown continues, the coaches will remain in daily contact with squad members as we gear up for the earliest possible, safe return to swim training and ultimately competition. The committee is also very active during this period.”

While the lockdown continues, the coaches will remain in daily contact with squad members

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