Fine medal haul for Kilkenny’s ‘famous five’ at the nationals

FIVE Kilkenny swimmers cleaned up in the medal stakes when they travelled to the National Aquatic Centre for the Irish Youth and senior national championship.

FIVE Kilkenny swimmers cleaned up in the medal stakes when they travelled to the National Aquatic Centre for the Irish Youth and senior national championship.

Led by Jane Roberts, who swam in the European Juniors competition in Belgrade a fortnight earlier, Kilkenny scooped four gold medals on the opening day of the competition. Roberts won the under-15 100m backstroke, with Jess Stallard also winning the under-15 200m freestyle.

The winning continued as David Prendergast finished first in the under-17/18 100m backstroke, while Colm Dowling won the 100m senior backstroke.

Roberts went on to compete in the final of 100m freestyle where she finished her race despite suffering an injury. She was unable to continue swimming at the remainder of the gala, where she had been due to compete in the 50m open butterfly final.

Jess Stallard added to her 200m freestyle win with three more national titles in the 100m freestyle, 400m freestyle and the 800m freestyle. Stallard also competed in the 100m butterfly, winning the silver medal and the 100m backstroke, where she was the fourth Irish swimmer home. She capped a memorable weekend by finishing fifth in the 50m open freestyle.

David Prendergast followed up his backstroke success by capturing the national 100m freestyle gold, finishing with a personal best for good measure. Both Prendergast and Stallard were also named in the Leinster team to compete at the British youths swimming gala in Sheffield.

Kate Walsh, swimming in the under-15 age group, earned her first national bronze medal in the 100m butterfly. This was a fine achievement for Kate, who had a brilliant personal best time to achieve this medal. She also competed in the 50m open butterfly and the 100m freestyle events.

Colm Dowling swam in seven finals over the four-day event. As well as gold in the 100m senior backstroke he secured a silver medal in the 100m freestyle and 50m backstroke and bronze in 200m individual medley. Dowling was also the fifth Irish swimmer in the 50m butterfly and 50m freestyle, sixth in the 100m butterfly and first Irish reserve for the 50m breaststroke final.

Three more locals were in national action at the Irish age groups national swimming championships (Division One). Yuan O’Neill, Mike Healy and Callum Maher, who all swam in the 13 and under age group, scored personal best times in their races and gained some valuable experience at national level.