The Laois Marlins Swimming Club made a huge impact at the Leinster Division 2 Finals held at the National Aquatic Centre last weekend.
All ten competitors - Theresa Costello, Aoife Bracken, Caitlin Pretorius, Sarah Heffernan, Aidan Nealon, Ryan Flynn, Christopher Carew, Ian Heffernan, Mark Heffernan and Cailean O’Keefe - reached the finals, and ended the day with an incredible haul of seven medals - four gold, two silver and one bronze.
Head Coach Irina Dawson said. “I expected them to do well, but never in my best dreams did I imagine this, what a performance on a provincial stage.”
Mark Heffernan took gold in Freestyle, Backstroke and Breaststroke, knocking a combined 17 seconds off personal bests.
Christopher Carew won gold in the U-12 Breaststroke, knocking 11 seconds off his time, as well as shaving 15 seconds from Butterfly and 11 seconds from Freestyle.
Caitlin Pretorius swam a brilliant 1.15 Freestyle to take silver in a very close finish. She also recorded huge improvements in Breaststroke and Butterfly.
Caoilean O’Keefe finished one hundreth of a second away from his club mate Mark Heffernan to take a Freestyle silver as well as recording a PB in Breaststroke.
Ian Heffernan won bronze in the Freestyle as well as knocking seven seconds off his Breaststroke time. In the U-12 Butterfly Aidan Nealon knocked eight seconds off his PB in the preliminaries, and went on to swim the race of his career shaving a further 11 seconds off in the final, finishing a very strong first, but was heart-breakingly disqualified on a tiny technicality. The impressive young swimmer also broke 1.20 in the Freestyle.
Ryan Flynn broke 1.22 in Freestyle as well as recording PB’s in Backstroke and Breaststroke. Sarah Heffernan shaved nine seconds off her Freestyle, while clubmate Theresa Costello knocked ten seconds off Freestyle and Breaststroke. Aoife Bracken swam a great Butterfly Final, and shaved a further three seconds between the preliminaries and the final on the day.
It was not only the medal haul or the host of Personal Bests that impressed coach and spectators alike, but also the way in which the competitors supported one another. “Not one of our swimmers left the poolside until every race was finished, cheering on every single stroke made by a Marlin, “ said Irina. “We are so proud of them, they have put the work in and have been justly rewarded.”
Meanwhile the 70-strong Laois Marlins club continues to train at the Portlaoise Leisure Centre. For information on joining contact club secretary Violet Nealon 086-8953209.
See this week’s Leinster Express for more photographic coverage