CORK swimmers impressed at the McCullagh International at the Bangor Aurora Leisure Centre in Down last month featuring over 450 competitors.
The meet is the first long-course racing opportunity of the season. Athletes are not rested for the meet, as their primary focus is on the April Trials, but it provides an excellent opportunity to test themselves in a racing environment, while still focusing on the qualification trials for a busy summer international schedule.
The meet also provided an opportunity for athletes to battle it out for national relay titles. The Sunday's Well Swimming Club quartet, Sharon Semchiy, Isabel Kidney, Beth Nolan and Anna Feenan combined to win the first national title of the meet, with victory in the 4x200m freestyle relay. The team were lying in 4th place when Anna Feenan dived in for the final leg. Feenan powered to a 2:14.38 split to bring the team home in first place 9:00.67 ahead of Limerick 9:01.20 and Ards 9:02.27.
Jack Cassin, Dolphin & National Centre Limerick (NCL), was in ‘flying’ form with double gold at 200m & 100m butterfly. He was the comfortable winner over 200m, touching on 2:01.31. He was challenged all the way over 100m by Evan Bailey, New Ross but Cassin clinched the victory with 55.22, Bailey on 55.45. Cassin was joined by his NCL teammates Jeremy Bagshaw and Olympian, Finn McGeever in the 200m freestyle final.
The three, well familiar with the others form, delivered a nail-biting final. Bagshaw touched first on 1:50.72. Cassin edged into 2nd place on 1:51.45 ahead of McGeever on 1:51.55. Cassin also placed 10th in the sprint 50m freestyle final.
Another in ‘flying’ form was Sharon Semchiy, SWSC. Semchiy claimed double bronze in the 200m & 100m butterfly posting 2:20.09 & 1:03.61 respectively. Semchiy also qualified for finals in 50m butterfly and 50m freestyle, placing 6th & 5th respectively.
Andrew Feenan, SWSC & NCL won bronze at 200m breaststroke 2:19.95. The event was won by Olympian, Darragh Greene 2:14.75 with Limerick & NCL’s Eoin Corby in second on 2:17.05. Feenan placed 5th at the shorter 100m distance. Feenan’s sister Anna favours the freestyle events and placed 7th in both the 200m & 400m finals. She won the ‘B’ final at 100m and placed 8th overall in the sprint 50m final.
Sean Bugler, SWSC, placed 6th at 800m freestyle 9:03.89 and 10th at 400m freestyle 4:21.81. He also placed 8th in the ‘B’ final at 200m freestyle and 10th in the ‘B’ final at 100m backstroke. Younger brother, Thomas qualified for three ‘C’ finals and was the gold medallist at 200m freestyle and the silver medallist at 400m freestyle and 200m IM.
Other siblings in action over the weekend included the O’Shea sisters, Dolphin. Hannah qualified for three finals and placed 7th at 200m butterfly, 9th at 400m IM and 10th at 50m butterfly. She also placed 6th in the ‘B’ final of 200m freestyle. Younger sister Michelle, placed 8th in the ‘B’ final of 400m IM.
The Fane siblings also from the Dolphin Club were regulars at the start blocks in the finals sessions. Heather collected three silver medals in the ‘B’ finals of 50m & 200m butterfly and at 200m IM but had to settle for bronze in the ‘B’ final at 100m butterfly. Ricky placed 7th in the 400m IM final and won bronze in the ‘B’ final at 200m breaststroke. He also placed 9th in the ‘B’ final over the shorter 100m distance. Ewan placed 8th in the ‘B’ final of 50m breaststroke.
Isabel Kidney, Beth Noland, SWSC and Lexi Dunne, Dolphin featured prominently in the breaststroke finals. The 50m final had spectators on their feet as the top four all finished sub 34 seconds. Kidney had an exceptional swim to tie for 2nd place 33.26 with Nula Gow, Scotland. When both girls checked the scoreboard they discovered they lost out on gold by just .04 seconds to Eimear Doyle of Limerick 33.22. Lexi Dunne placed 7th in that exciting final with 35.26.
Amy Lynch placed 9th in the ‘B; final. Kidney placed 7th in the final of 100m breaststroke 1:15.12 while Nolan won the ‘B’ final on 1:15.73. Dunne placed 5th in the ‘B’ final. Nolan edged ahead of Kidney in the 200m final, touching on 2:44.32 for 7th place with Kidney on 2:44.40 in 8th. Rene Malley, Dolphin won the bronze medal in the ‘C’ final of 200m breaststroke.
Antonia Sech, SWSC placed 5th at 200m backstroke and 10th in the 200m IM finals, but it was her victory in the ‘B’ final of 100m backstroke which was impressive. Eight of the ten finalists swam times sub 1:06 minutes. Sech held off the chasing Katie Kelly, Shark SC to touch on 1:05.01 with Kelly just .05 seconds behind on 1:05.06. Zophia Quigley, Ards completed the podium with 1:05.10