Following the recent spell of wintry weather which saw a number of sporting events postponed, some of the top female stars of Comanís Swimming Club made a return to competition at the Connacht Senior Schools gala in Leisureland, Galway on January 9th last.
The girls represented a number of schools from around Co Roscommon at this event. Each swimmer was allowed to swim in two 100m events in Junior (U14), Intermediate (15-16 years) and Senior (over 16 years) age groups, with all those who met the required standard qualifying for the national finals, while the fastest six entries for the open 400m freestyle swam a time trial to try and earn a place in that event for a return trip to Salthill to the Irish Senior Schools Finals on January 28th and 29th which will also take place in Leisureland.
Castlerea Community School had three swimmers in the competition, and they all qualified for the All-Ireland finals. Sarah Kelly, who represented Ireland last year in the annual WISE Schools international competition, is in pole position to do so again in 2011 following a comfortable victory in the Junior Girls (U14) 100m butterfly in a time of 1:08.82. Sarah also won the silver medal for the Junior Girls 100m Freestyle final in 1:03.68 following an earlier heat time of 1:02.95 to qualify comfortably for a second swim at All-Ireland level. Sarah was exempt from the 400m freestyle time trial as she is on the Swim Ireland High Performance programme at the moment and is allowed to enter the 400m freestyle (and 200m butterfly) time trial directly at the national finals.
Romy Madden had not swam in competition since her successful appearance at the Irish Open Youth/Senior championships last July, due to a broken arm and other commitments which limited her training, but the 16-year-old showed a true fighterís spirit to come back with a bang in the Senior Girls 100m Freestyle where she posted a personal best time of 1:02.74 to qualify fastest for the final, and eventually take the silver medal in 1:02.84, well inside the qualifying time for the All-Ireland finals. Romy followed this up with a second silver medal in the Senior Girls 100m breaststroke final, posting 1:27.71 to qualify for the All Ireland finals again. Unfortunately, despite getting a swim in the Open 400m Freestyle, she finished outside the medals in 4th place with a respectable time of 4:51.64 to end a remarkable return to action for the Leaving Cert student. Lucy Madden (15) made it three out of three for Castlerea at the All-Ireland finals when she finished 9th in the Intermediate 100m Butterfly in 1:20.21, but missed her time for the 200m individual medley with an 8th place finish in 2:53.11.
Scoil Mhuire, Strokestown were represented by the Geogeghan sisters, Clare (17) and Joan (14). Clare won the gold medal for the Senior Girls 200m Individual Medley in 2:37.20, and won the silver medal for the Senior Girls 100 Butterfly in a personal best time of 1:08.30, maintaining her good form from the pre-Christmas period and qualifying for the All-Ireland Schools finals for the third year in a row in both events. Joan made a welcome return to competitive swimming, and did well in both her events despite missing out on a place in the All-Irelands as she finished 10th in the Intermediate Girls 100m Butterfly in 1:26.92, and 14th in the Intermediate Girls 100m Freestyle in 1:12.63.
Scoil Mhuire Gan SmŠl, Roscommon had a team of five swimmers, and had success to report in both individual and relay events. Olivia Fullard led the charge for the town, picking up the bronze medal in the Intermediate Girls 200m Individual Medley in 2:43.11, and finishing 4th in the final of the Intermediate Girls 100m Breaststroke in 1:29.01 having posted 1:26.64 in her heat to ensure that she can return for two swims at the All-Ireland finals. Leah Feane and Sasha Hibbs qualified for the All Ireland Finals in one swim each. In the Intermediate Girls 100m Butterfly, Leah finished 8th in 1:18.80 to get through, but missed out in the 100m Freestyle where she was 10th in 1:10.23. Sasha just made the cut in the same Freestyle event when she made the final in 1:07.77 and finished 5th in 1:08.84, but she missed her qualifying time in the Intermediate Girls 200m IM, finishing 9th in a PB of 2:54.96.
Riona Delaney had an excellent PB of 1:14.42 in the Junior Girls 100m Freestyle, and another PB of 1:27.50 in the Junior Girls 100m Backstroke but failed to make the All-Irelands. Erica Delaney had a similar story to her sister. Despite finishing 4th in the Senior Girls 100m Breaststroke final in 1:31.40 and 7th in the Senior Girls 100m Freestyle in 1:09.55, she, too, didnít make it to the All-Irelands as an individual, but was part of the Conventís silver medal winning team in the Senior Girls 4 x 50m freestyle relay along with Olivia Fullard, Sasha Hibbs and Leah Feane.
Emma Ryan swam for Elphin Community College, and was unable to qualify for the All-Irelands despite finishing 12th in the Intermediate Girls 100m Freestyle in 1:11.27, and earning an 11th place finish in the Intermediate Girls 200m Individual Medley in a time of 3:02.65.
The AGM of Comanís Swimming Club will take place on Wednesday February 23rd at 8 pm at Hannonís Hotel, Roscommon. All parents with children in the club are invited to attend.