Romy Madden and Clare Geogheghan returned from last weekendís Irish Open Youth and Senior Championships in the National Aquatic Centre, Dublin, with two more national titles, as well as taking four silver medals.
As well as all of the top Irish performers like Olympians Andrew Bree, Aisling Cooney and Melanie Nocher, there were swimmers from Scotland, France, South Africa and Egypt on display. Comanís were represented at Junior by Olivia Fullard and Erica Delaney, while Clare Geogeghan and Romy Madden swam in the Youths.
Thursday began with 200m Freestyle Heats for all four girls. Olivia Fullard (2:30.08) and Erica Delaney (2:38.17) were unable to make the Junior final, but Romy Madden (8th in 2:17.36) and Clare Geogeghan (reserve in 2:22.50) did qualify for the youths final, where Romy was 7th overall in a new personal best of 2:16.82, and Clare was 10th in 2:25.22, conscious of the fact that she would be swimming the 200m butterfly final minutes later. Clare made the most of her chance and took an excellent silver medal in that 200 Butterfly final in 2:37.55, an identical time to her heat win earlier in the day.
It was back to freestyle on Friday and the 100m heats saw all four girls in action again. None of them made the final of their respective categories. In the Youths section Romy Madden was disappointed with her freestyle time and placing (13th in 1:03.89) as there were six international swimmers ahead of her, so being seventh best of the Irish was not enough for a place in the final, despite her becoming first reserve following two late withdrawals. Clare didnít get a personal best either, 1:05.75 enough for 20th place overall (13th Irish swimmer). Erica Delaneyís involvement ended here. Having come back from a serious injury earlier in the season, she showed remarkable courage and strength of character just to be in the field at this event, and should be proud of that achievement.
The gruelling 400m Individual Medley was next up. Romy Madden and Clare Geogeghan both qualified from the heats and went head to head in the final. Clare swam a fabulous race to become Irish Youths Champion, with her gold medal winning time of 5:34.26 a huge personal best and just reward for all of her hard work over the past three years. Romy also swam her best ever long course time (5:45.30) in this event to make it a 1-2 for Comanís, and win the silver medal. Finally on Friday, Romy swam the 50m Butterfly for fun and was 51st in 33.34.
Saturday morningís first involvement for the remaining Comanís girls was the 400m freestyle heats. Olivia was 37th Junior in 5:12.51, while Romy was 3rd fastest in Youths (4:51.04) and Clare 10th fastest (5:00.13), to qualify for the final.
The news got better in the evening final, when Clare improved to 8th (4:57.15) and Romy stormed to a silver medal in 4:48.36, catching up at the death to touch 0.03 sec ahead of the third swimmer in a thriller. Clare was 10th fastest qualifier for the 100m butterfly final in 1:10.59, where she ended up 5th of the Irish in 10th overall in the final (1:10.95). Romy also lined up in the 100m Butterfly heats but was disqualified for the first time ever!
On Sunday, Clare took her third medal of the gala in the 200 IM final, improving again to a personal best of 2:38.27 to win the silver, and Romy took her personal best down to 2:43.07 to finish 8th overall and 5th of the Irish. Clare and Romy were together again for the open 50m Freestyle heats, but neither made the semi finals.
The final story of the gala came from the 800m Freestyle, and Romy Madden went out in style, completing a magnificent golden double for Comanís when she became Irish Youths Champion in 10:00.12, to the delight of her swimming friends from all parts of the country in a hard fought battle against Mairead McDermott (10:05.12) from Riversdale Otters, Strabane, and Sarah Clifford (10:17.47) from Dolphin in Cork, who recently swam the straits of Gibraltar becoming the first Irish female swimmer to do so.
This gala was a huge leap up in class for Romy from last yearís all conquering Division II performance, and both Romy and Clare will grow in confidence having proved this week that they belong at the top table of Irish long course swimming.