‘Aspiring’ young Cork swimmers show their quality at Limerick meet

‘Aspiring’ young Cork swimmers show their quality at Limerick meet

Cork Swimming: The Clonakilty team on a break between sessions at the Aspiring Champions meet. Picture: William Horgan

THE strength and depth of swimming in Cork City and County is very encouraging, particularly in the junior ranks. 

This was particularly evident again at the Aspiring Champions meet, held at University of Limerick recently. Clubs and coaches worked extremely hard to find alternate ways to retain and motivate swimmers during the pandemic lockdown, with the reopening of pools, one of the last restrictions to be lifted. 

Now that competitive opportunity has resumed, the young athletes are repaying that commitment with exceptional performances in the pool.

The meet catered for a wide range of ability as it was open to ‘Age Groups’ with no qualifying criteria or upper cut off. The only restriction on entry was to National Squad members.

The 13-14 age group, both girls and boys, was particularly dominant, with on average eight of the top ten places, across all events awarded to Cork swimmers.

Phelim Hanley, Blackrock, touched first at 200m freestyle 2:16.49 ahead of the Dolphin duo Donnacha Leane, 2:19.26 and Luke Merrigan 2:21.04. David O’Leary, Thomas Bugler, Dylan Gunn & Vincent Kopczynski, SWSC and Ben Coleman, Dolphin all featured in the top ten. Hanley also led the Cork charge at 200m IM 2:36.83 ahead of Bugler 2:42.56. 

Hanley’s third victory came at his signature event, 200m butterfly. He comfortably led an all-Cork top three, posting 2:34.56 with Leane on 2:56.95 and Bugler with 3:07.14. He narrowly missed out on a fourth victory at 200m backstroke. On that occasion, it was the Well’s O’Leary in pole with 2:38.55, Hanley on 2:39.47 and Tadgh O’Brien, Dolphin in third with 2:43.21.

Luke Merrigan topped a strong Cork field at 100m backstroke to win on 1:12.53 ahead of SWSC duo O’Leary 1:13.49 and Liam O’Driscoll 1:18.69. Merrigan added victory at 400m IM with an impressive 5:26.78. The Blackrock duo Ciaran Mahon and Culann Read battled for second with Mahon clinching it on 6:32.39 with Read in 3rd on 6:32.81. O’Driscoll was the comfortable winner at 800m freestyle posting 9:48.68 ahead of Ewan Coleman, Dolphin 10:15.62.

Donnacha Leane added victories at 100m butterfly 1:12.68 ahead of Dylan Gunn 1:12.80 and also victory at 50m freestyle 28.95. Blackrock clubmates Conal Gillard 31.72 and Culann Read 31.73 placed 3rd & 4th. Leane had to settle for third over the 100m distance 1:02.24 behind the Well’s O’Leary in 2nd on 1:02.24.

The Cork girls were outstanding on the final day, when the top 13 places were shared among Cork clubs in the 100m butterfly. It was SWSC’s Sarah Tarbatt who led the way on 1:21.59 with Emma Bugler, Streamline Cobh, in 2nd 1:23.14 and Mallow’s Liadh Boag completing the podium 1:25.14. Alex Malley, Rachel Barry, Abaigael Logan, Alexis Spooner and Camella Enteheva, Dolphin; Ava Huggard, Streamline; Maya McMahon, Clonakilty; Issy Harty, SWSC; Katya Barrett, Blackrock and Iseult Thaney, Mallow all featured in the top 13.

Shauna Murphy, Dolphin, topped an all-Cork podium at 200m backstroke 2:43.60 followed by clubmate Orna Higgins 2:48.25 and Mallow’s Victoria Roche 2:54.08 and Aoife Heavin 2:54.86 in 3rd & 4th. Murphy placed second at the shorter 100m distance 1:16.56 behind the Well’s Carrie Harringron 1:14.72. 

Murphy was back in pole position at 200m breaststroke 3:06.71 with clubmate Abigail Logan in 3rd 3:10.90. Murphy placed 2nd at 200m butterfly 2:57.20 ahead of clubmate Rachel Barry 3:24.33. She also placed 3rd at 400m freestyle 5:15.03. Higgins had two third place finishes at 100m & 50m freestyle 1:08.43 & 31.02.

Faye Carroll of SWSC was the youngest competitor to take on the challenging 800m freestyle and swam an impressive 13:11.22 for second place.

Cork teams also performed well in the junior relays. In the mixed 200m freestyle the top five places were secured by Cork teams. Dolphin touched first, followed by the two teams from SWSC with Streamline in 4th and Mallow in 5th. Dolphin also claimed victory in the mixed medley with SWSC in 2nd, Mallow 3rd and Streamline in 4th. 

SWSC claimed the top spot in the girls’ medley with the two Dolphin teams in 2nd & 4th. They also won the freestyle with the team from Dolphin in third. The boys from Dolphin claimed double bronze in the relays with the team from Blackrock in 4th in the freestyle.

Results for the 15-16 and senior age groups will follow next week.

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