Published April 04, 2012 09:20
2012 saw the Irish Universities Swimming and Water polo Association (IUSWA) host their Swimming and Lifesaving Championships in Ballyshannon Leisure Centre, County Donegal. With up on 200 Competitors from all corners of the Island descending on the Donegal town it promised to be a show case of the best in University Swimming.
Reigning Champions University College Dublin, Coached by Earl McCarthy 1996 Olympian, came into the weekend sporting a very strong team, most notably 2008 Olympian Aisling Cooney. However they weren’t going to have it all there own way. NUI Maynooth, the runners-up last year, sporting large numbers and NUI Galway rumoured to have a very strong men’s team, it was all to play for.
Friday night saw the swimming heats take place. With a very high standard of swimming on display some of the next generation of local competitors decided to drop into the Leisure Centre for a taste of the action. The predictions proved to be correct, with UCD, NUI Maynooth and NUI Galway producing the main numbers for the finals. However there were also strong performances from the other colleges hoping to mix things up a bit, with University College Cork, Queens University Belfast, Trinity College Dublin and Sligo IT, to name but a few.
Saturday Morning kicked off with the Swimming Finals, and with that the serious business began. While the 3 favourites all performed strongly, they struggled to compete in certain events with University College Cork’s Paul Laffin and Queen’s Ashleigh Hyland both performing well. The women’s side of the competition began to shift towards the reigning champions UCD, as they started to march to victory, however the men’s side was exactly the opposite. UCD and NUIG were battling it out, and at the half way mark 1 point was all that separated the two teams. This further intensified the competition and made for a very dramatic finish. In the end it all came down to the 4x50m Freestyle relay, with double points on offer. Once the race began, the roof on Ballyshannon Leisure Centre was lifted as the crowds tried to give their teams the extra push. The finish would be so close that we had to wait for a decision from the referee, only for NUI Maynooth to snatch victory over NUI Galway. However in finishing second the westerners had done enough to clinch the Men’s award and put a dent into the dominance of UCD.
Such was the supremacy of the UCD Women and a strong showing by their Men, the combined team effort was sufficient to retain the Overall Cup for a second year in a row.
Saturday Afternoon saw the Lifesaving Competition kick off. This competition was largely dominated by the western college’s in NUI Galway and Sligo IT, however there was also strong showings from Cork IT, Queens and Trinity. However NUI Galway, with a number of their team on the Lifesaving National Squad were able to clinch the trophy.
This year saw the introduction of a Lifesaving trophy which was named after the late Frank O’Kelly. Frank was a leading figure in Donegal Water Safety for many years until his passing in 2001, and it was fitting the introduction of the trophy would coincide with the event being hosted in Ballyshannon. His wife Valentine O’Kelly was special guest at the awards Ceremony and presented the shield to the NUI Galway Captain.
All in all, the event proved a huge success and special thanks must go to Ballyshannon Leisure Centre’s Management and staff, for helping in hosting the best Irish University Swimming has to offer. Donegal Water Safety, a strong hold on the National Stage was also able to help out for which their contribution is also commended.
A special thank you must also go to the IUSWA committee. This year their was no host college, and the event was ran by the Association, in what some might say was one of the best in many years. Next year the event will be hosted in UCD’s new Sports Centre and promises to showcase a whole new level and direction for Irish University Swimming.
Women’s Swimming Champions: University College Dublin
Men’s Swimming Champions: NUI Galway
Overall Swimming Champions: University College Dublin
Overall Lifesaving Champions: NUI Galway
Participating Clubs were:
University College Dublin
Waterford Institute of Technology
Trinity College Dublin
Queens University Belfast
Dublin Institute of Technology
University of Ulster
University College Cork
Cork Institute of Technology
Dublin City University
Tralee Institute of Technology
Sligo Institute of Technology