Sport

Irish swimmers hold their own in American invasion

Outgoing president of Swim Ireland Ann McAdam
Gerry O'Neill

AMERICAN swimmers from the National Collegiate Scouting Association dominated the Irish Open Long Course Championships in the National Aquatic Centre in Dublin at the weekend, when they won 30 of the 40 events on the programme.

The NCSA was founded in 2000 to help high school students navigate their way through the difficult transition into the college recruitment system.

There was real quality on view from the Americans, but it wasn't entirely one way traffic. Ards freestyle sprinter Curtis Coulter had a fine double when he picked up gold in the 50 and 100 metres. His clubmate Emma Reid set a new Irish junior record in the 50m butterfly and another Ards athlete, Bethany Firth, won the 100m freestyle.

Other notable performances came from Larne duo Danielle Hill and Conor Ferguson, who knocked a full second off his 200m backstroke record and, in the process, posted a qualifying time for the World Junior Championships later this year. Rachel Bethel(Lisburn), who has already achieved a qualifying time for the European Games in the summer in Baku, Azerbaijan, claimed the 200m freestyle title.

A total of 28 Irish swimmers have now achieved the target times for the main events of the summer, which are the World Championships, World University Games, European Youth Olympics, European Games and World Junior Championships.

On the administration front, the Swim Ireland AGM, Congress and Awards Night takes place on Saturday at the CityWest Hotel in Dublin. The incoming president is Ulster nominee Michael Angus from the Bangor club, who takes over from Belfast woman Ann McAdam (nee McCann), who has been resident in Dublin for many years and whose speciality is long distance swimming.

McAdam's main achievement was conquering the English Channel, but she has never forgotten where it all began. She was born and reared in a swimming pool in the old Falls Road Baths in Belfast, where her father Joe was manager and a house adjoining the pool complex went with the job.

Her formative years were spent in the Cathal Brugha club and it is expected she will acknowledge the club in her farewell address and the happy times she enjoyed there.

A new date has been agreed for the Irish U14 Water Polo Cup, which was postponed last month following the tragic death of Conor Kelaghan. It will now be played in Galway on the weekend of June 13-14.

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