MALLOW Swans Swimming Club, founded in the late nineties has enjoyed considerable success over the years, with swimmers achieving National Squad Status, and many of its senior swimmers progressing into the coaching ranks, remaining with the club, to continue the long standing tradition of competitive swimming within the town.
The club also have a strong Masters Club led by Jason Kenny who is also part of Mallow Swans coaching group. Masters swimmers have enjoyed National & International success and are regulars at the annual Malaga Masters. Members of the club were also among the 100 Swim Ireland members to set a Guinness World Record at 100 x 50m Freestyle Relay. The group collectively set a time of 46 minutes 38.04 seconds, breaking the previous record by over 9 minutes.
There has been no Head Coach at the club since the retirement of Deirdre Linehan 5 years ago (2015) resulting in a more relaxed approach to training. Fearing a decline in club standards, the new committee took a brave step in appointing a new Head Coach for the 2019/2020 season.
Deirdre Cunningham, formerly assistant Head Coach at Sundays Well Swimming Club in Douglas was appointed to the position and took over at the helm in September 2019. Deirdre joins the club with a very strong pedigree. A National swimmer herself, Cunningham competed at International level and is a Level 3 Coach, along with recently qualifying as a Swim Teacher Tutor. Cunningham remains a keen Master’s swimmer with Cork Masters Swimming Club in Cork.
The club have undergone a rejuvenation. All squads were reorganised and renamed. Additional training hours were added creating a new buzz and eagerness to be part of the challenge.
Mallow Swans holistic approach to leadership guaranted that all coaches, committee, parents and athletes themselves were fully engaged and informed throughout the rejuvenation process. That holistic approach continues throughout the day to day decision making and training process.
The results have been amazing in a short period. Numbers attending training sessions are up, with everyone buying into the new programme. Numbers attending galas over the short course (SC) season rose dramatically, with swimmers achieving significant personal best times and qualifying for higher levels within the Munster Development schedule. The highest number of swimmers in recent history attended the Munster SC Qualifying & Munster SC Championship meets at University of Limerick.
Some of the swimmers to shine at those meets included, Muireann Quinlan with 18+ second PB swims at 200m freestyle & 200m IM. Eimear Britton with four PB’s from four swims at 100m, 200m, & 400m freestyle and 100m IM. Joachim O’Driscoll who knocked a staggering 20.27 seconds from his 100m freestyle. He also knocked 11 seconds from his 200m freestyle & 200m IM times. Patrick Segondat with a 16.94 second PB at 200m freestyle and 15.91 at the shorter 100m distance. Segondat also dropped 9.83 seconds at 200m IM.
The boys delivered significant PB performances across the 200m freestyle, Eanna Garvey with an improvement of 18.65 seconds, Jack Egan 12.43 seconds, David Duane 10.30 seconds and Fintan O’Keeffe 6.69 seconds. O’Keeffe had a 9.79 improvement at 1,500 freestyle and also swam 800m freestyle 9:32.93 for the first time over short course.
Laoise Duane improved her 200m freestyle time by 6 seconds, posting 2:25.18 while Alison O’Leary dropped 9.67 seconds from her 100m breaststroke time.
Liam Fitzmaurice and James McCarthy had great swims at 200m IM. Fitzmaurice improving by 14.40 seconds and McCarthy by 11.75 seconds.
Luke Brophy finished his 2018/2019 season with a PB of 1:05.62 at the National Division 2 Championships in July. Brophy shaved 4.63 seconds from that time at Munster SC after just two months in the new programme to post 1:01.95 and qualify for the Irish SC Championships in December 2019. A further improvement at the Nationals saw him qualify for the ‘B’ final at 100m backstroke with a 1.69 PB swim. He repeated that time in the evening final, 1:00.26 to finish 5th, edging closer to the minute barrier. Riley Moynihan also qualified for the SC Nationals, but couldn’t compete due to exams.
In the lead up to the Christmas break from training, the three competitive squads, Juniors, Intermediates and Seniors completed their schedule with a Charity Swim, raising €1,612 for Cork Simon. The event began at 5:45am, with the seniors swimming 10k. The intermediates then swam 4k and the event concluded with the Juniors at 11:45am, completing 2k. The strong team of coaches were there to support and encourage the athletes, Jason Kenny, Jennifer McCarthy, Aoife Sexton, Ciara McCarthy, Evan O Connor, Gavin O Brien, Ben Buckley, Sean Browne, Jessica Harris, Liam Bugler, Fiona Martin & Lucy Sheehan.
The Christmas break was short-lived however, as the club took advantage of a three-day residential camp at University of Limerick. The camp enabled athletes experience training in a 50m pool which is of crucial importance as the swimming schedule moves in, to the long course (LC) season.
Two by two-hour pool sessions were held daily with strength & conditioning sessions also incorporated into the programme. Apart from the LC training benefits, the camp also enabled team bonding.
All eyes will be focused on these aspiring young athletes as we move in, to the LC season and Olympic Year. The first outing for many of these swimmers will be the Gerry Ryan Invitational to be held at the University of Limerick on 18th & 19th January 2020.