Kilkenny swimmers made a big splash and enjoyed an outstanding week in the National Aquattic Centre, Dublin at the Irish Olympic trials.
The 11-strong squad form Kilkenny kicked off the week in style. Colm Dowling won silver in the 100m back crawl and bronzer in the 50m fly and free. David Prendergast produced some fantastic swims and qualified for finals in all his events. He is looking very strong for the season ahead.
Also in tremendous form were Kieran Dowling, Brendan Neary, Mikie McCarthy and Liam Lanigan. The men’s 4x100m freestyle team of Colm Dowling, David Prendergast, Brendan Neary and Mikie McCarthy won bronze.
The girls were not to be out-done and they were in flying form too. Shani Stallard won gold in the 200m breststroke, silver in 100m breststroke and silver in the 50m breaststroke.
Jane Roberts took gold in the 50m backcrawl and broke the Irish junior record, the second time in recent months she did so. She also picked up bronze in the 50m fly and 100m backcrawl.
Jess Stallard won bronze in the 100m freestyle and she made the finals in all her events. Kate Walsh swam strongly all week and made the finals in all her swims with some impressive PB times. Megan Fitzgerald made finals in all her events and also recorded a few PB times on the way.
However, the young ladies from Kilkenny went one better when the junior girls team of Jess Stallard, Jane Roberts, Kate Walsh and Megan FItzgerald drove down the pool in the 4x100m freestyle final, winning gold and breaking the Irish record, the first one for a Kilkenny swimming club team.
The girls set their sights on an even bigger prize. They looked towards the Irish senior IM record which had not been broken since 2007. They had three junior swimmers, Jane Roberst, Jess Stallard and Kate Walsh in action, plus one senior, Shani Stallard.
The numbers and times were crunched. The massive challenge was that each one had to swim to their best. There was no margin for error. It was going to be very tight if the record of 4.25.23 were to be bettered.
Ahead of record
The girls felt they could do it. They let rip. Jane was first up in the back crawl. She produced a time of 1.05. Next up was Shani and she hit 1.12 on the breststroke leg. By this stage the girls were well ahead, but they were only half way through.
The pressure was on Kate Walsh who was up next in fly. She gave it everything and when she hit the wall the clock read 3.25.40. The anchor Jess Stallard had to go sub 1.00 if a new mark was to becorded. The excitement was electic. Everyone was cheering the Cats. Jess powered on. As she hit the wall the clock read 4.24.91.
The Irish senior record was in the bag. It was another first for Kilkenny swimming club. Jane Roberts also qualified for European Juniors which will be held later in the summer.
Shani Stallard is in London this week swimming at the British Olympic trials. She has qualified for Europeans Seniors which will be held in May.