It was more than their luminous yellow gear that stood Coman’s top trio of Sarah Kelly, Romy Madden and Clare Geogeghan out from the large attendance at the four-day National Long Course Championships held last weekend at the National Aquatic Centre, Dublin.
They were well able to mix it up in a field bolstered by the inclusion of 52 of the top American junior swimmers from 14-18 yrs, and a large group of top performers from the UK, Slovenia and Ireland. The USA squad were selected from their National SC Championships held in March in Orlando, Florida.
The biggest attraction was, arguably, World Short Course Championship silver medallist and European Short Course record holder for 400m Individual Medley Hannah Miley from Garioch Swimming Club in Scotland. Co-incidentally, Hannah has relatives in Co Roscommon, and was delighted to meet and greet our talented threesome at the gala, and proved to be a real star in and out of the water.
Day One began with Sarah and Clare in action in the 200m freestyle. Sarah swam a personal best of 2:17.10 to finish a very creditable 36th out of a field of 109. Clare was a little below par in this event, 2:24.68 enough for 74th place. Things improved for Clare in her second event, the 200m butterfly, where she qualified for the ‘B’ final and finished in 14th place overall and 8th best of the Irish swimmers in 2:37.48. Sarah, however, fared even better, the incredible 12-year-old smashing her own Connacht Senior and Junior Record in winning the ‘B’ final in 2:29.10 to finish 11th overall and 5th best Irish performer. Sarah made Thursday a day to remember for her when she swam her way to another qualifying time for the British Age Groups Championships in the gruelling 1500m freestyle. 18:52.36 was her time, which earned her 9th place overall, an amazing fourth of the Irish.
Day two saw Romy Madden arrive on the scene with a long course personal best of 1:04.99 in the 100m freestyle to finish 42nd of the Irish and 63rd overall out of 125 starters. Clare was close behind in 71st (50th Irish) with 1:05.82, whilst Sarah posted 1:06.23 for 78th (57th Irish). Romy’s second event of the day was 50m butterfly, where a disappointing 34:23 saw her finish in 36th place. Both Romy and Sarah took part in the 800m Freestyle, with Romy finishing 21st in a very respectable 10:12.89 to ensure she can swim this event again later in the summer at the Youth/Senior Championships. Distance specialist Sarah swam in the fastest heat and finished 9th in a Long Course personal best of 9.52.43.
Sarah also swam 400m IM on Friday and qualified for another ‘B’ final, where she was 10th of the Irish and 16th overall in another long course personal best of 5:34.93. Not surprisingly, guest swimmer and IM specialist Hannah Miley won this event.
Day three dawned on Saturday with 400m Freestyle for all three girls. Sarah Kelly made a third ‘B’ final with a heat time of 4:47.39, and she was 18th overall in another Llng course personal best of 4:45.95. Romy Madden took four seconds off her previous long course best to finish 43rd out of 80 in 4:56.19 in her only race of the day, while Clare Geogeghan was 66th in 5:04.50, outside her personal best on this occasion. Clare and Sarah were also involved in the 100m butterfly. Clare was 39th in 1:12.47, while Sarah swam 1:10.19 to 32nd place.
The girls had a magnificent time at this event, the fun and camaraderie adding to the experience of swimming with and meeting some of the world’s finest emerging and established talent. In fact, the ‘Neon’ colours of Coman’s will fly in the USA as Romy and Clare exchanged jackets with two of their American counterparts, and Sarah has a little piece of Miley memorabilia to take home from another marvellous weekend for Coman’s Swimming Club’s top performers. Not many young athletes in this country get an opportunity to mix it with top internationals in their sport, and the girls will remember this weekend for many years to come.