The National Aquatic Centre in Blanchardstown played host to the showpiece of schools swimming; the Irish senior and minor schools national championships.
Both senior and junior members of the Laois marlins took time away from representing the marlins, and instead took time to represent their local primary and secondary schools, and in all cases with great pride and achievement.
To get to the national finals all swimmers had to firstly quality via the Leinster Schools finals which were held in Tallaght in early January, so for a club like Laois Marlins to have seven swimmers all to reach the finals was a remarkable achievement.
On the day itself pride of place goes to Conor McMahon who represented Emo NS. Conor took part in two events, the 50m breaststroke and 50m freestyle, and managed to see off all competitors in both events leading him to take gold and top position on the podium for both disciplines. An outstanding achievement for a young man whose talents on the cross-country track and gym are equal to his achievements in the pool.
Conor wasn’t the only star on the day as one of Marlins’ up and coming swimmers Emma Rouget (representing Ballyfin NS) qualified from the heats in both her disciplines and went on to achieve two top ten results in the finals – a great result from Emma.
Also on the day there were great achievements from Ellen Donoghue (Tobar An Leinn NS, Raheen), Toni Dolan (Barnashrone NS, Mountmellick), Katie Donoghue (St Colmans NS, Stradbally), Valera Zaharovs (Scoil Mhuire Abbeyleix) and Zara McMahon (Emo NS) who represented both their schools, the Marlins and their county with great pride. Who said school had to be boring ?
Marlins and Minnows support McDonalds Charity
One of the highlights of the year for both novice and strong swimmers is the annual charity gala in aid of McDonalds house that takes place in the NAC every February.
Swimmers from all around Ireland are invited to compete for personal bests, whilst making new friends, having a great time and all while supporting a cause that helps less fortunate boys and girls around Ireland.
One of gala’s key selling points, which emphasises its fun and friendly nature, is the inclusion of a minnows gala which takes place in a separate 25m pool directly behind the main pool. Minnow galas are very relaxed in nature and allow first time novice swimmers a gentle introduction into competitive swimming without the pressures of starting blocks and starting guns.
Laois Marlins were represented at the minnows gala by four of our newest members, with Jennifer Holland, James McDonald, Sadhbh Moore and Hannah Schiller all competing with great distinction in a number of events. Each and every one of the team had a great day and really enjoyed their first experience of competition in the state of the art National Aquatic Centre.
In the main pool twelve of the Marlins squad competed in a variety of disciplines over the course of the morning and afternoon sessions. On the day itself a total of 17 personal bests and five medals - two gold, two silver and one bronze - were achieved by the Marlins squad. It was a great achievement considering the serious competition on the day from clubs like Tallaght, Trojans, Kilkenny, ESB, Aer Lingus and Kells.
The gala itself allowed a number of Marlins to add new events to their ever growing repertoires with Valera Zaharovs and Conor Menendez both swimming their first competitive 200 IMs. In addition Aoibhin McDonald competed in her first 50m Backstroke and 100m Breaststroke, and Eleanor Holland and Caoimhe Moore both swam in their first 100m Breaststrokes.
Personal bests came fast and furious with Caoimhe Moore, Ben Wall, Eleanor Holland, Zara McMahon, Gary Young O’Shea and Conor Menendez all recording one or more PBs throughout the day.
Highlight of the day goes jointly to Jordan Overton and Conor McMahon who between them brought home five medals of varying colours. Both Jordan and Conor are no strangers to the podium and neither competitor show any signs of grandeur or greatness despite their constant success at the highest level.
Congratulations to Jordan, Conor and all the Marlins team on a hugely successful day, for a hugely deserving charity.