Its been a while since I put anything on this……but its gonna be a big year and I thought I’d get back on it again. So to get us up and running this is a copy of an article posted in Larne Times last week.
July 2018 and the focus of Irish swimming was firmly on the National Aquatic Centre in Dublin. Larne swimming club was no different to any other club.
It is safe to say that for the small regional club the meet didn’t go as planned. Team ambassador Danielle Hill dislocated her elbow in the warm-up on day 2 and was unable to compete. The team struggled to compete as their talisman was sent home.
Danielle would subsequently be told that she needed surgery, an operation that would mean no swimming at all for 4 months.
As the rest of the team got back to training in late August with sessions in Larne’s Tower Leisure Centre and essential part of the necessary training program. The staff and Councils willingness to facilitate the club is invaluable.
Danielle started on the road to recovery. The S & C team and physio in SINI (sports institute Northern Ireland) and the doctors at Ulster Rugby got to work rebuilding the elbow.
At Christmas, while many of their peers where relaxing this dedicated group gave up their holidays and went on a residential camp. Foundation movement skills, mindfulness, sports psych and nutritional workshops where the order of the day along with double swim sessions every day.
By January Danielle had started to swim a little, slowly and with some very basic movements but still – swimming. The squad rallied around her and helped to keep her moral high as frustration started to grow (and more than a little impatience).
A trip to compete in Lisbon and this group of young athletes started to galvanize as a team. Our #Teamlarne is more than just empty words, this group is a team in an individual sport, they support each other and push each other to exceed their own expectations.
At Irish Nationals in April – rehab complete and confidence high (despite a forced switch to the 50 free from the 100 back due to a potential weakness in the elbow) but with only 10 weeks of work, Danielle set a new Irish Senior Record in the 50 BC and lowered her person best in the 100BC but ultimately missed out in her bid to qualify for the world university games in the summer.
The re-set button was pressed and the focus set on Irish Summer Nationals, a competition that the club has traditionally had around 6 swimmers competing in recent years. This year – 19 athletes travelled to Dublin, a signal that this is a club moving forwards in a big way.
Day one and up stepped Ben Woodside, 16, in the 100 breaststroke. The 1st swim of a meet can set the tone for the whole team and Ben didn’t let us down, breaking the Ulster Junior record – a fantastic swim.
Day two and Danielle stepped up breaking the Irish Senior Record in the 50 free and Ben went again in the 200 Breast taking a second Ulster Junior record. Day three and yet again Danielle steps up and smashes her own record in the 50 Back setting a time that would have taken a silver in the world university games and placed 11th in the world championships. There was still more to come on day 4 with both the 100 free and 100 back being Northern Ireland very own Iron Lady Danielle decided to race both, the 100 free say record 3 fall to Danielle breaking Sycerika McMahons 2013 record which had been set at the world championships. Incredibly, in a first for Irish swimming, Danielle set her 4th Irish Senior Record of the meet in the 100Back a record held by Aisling Cooney (another Olympian).
Finals by James Strutt (in his 1st national event), Jamie Clements and Ellie Falls and a silver medal for the mixed medley relay team of Jamie, Ben, Ellie and Danielle rounded of the best national meet for the Larne Swim team.
The support team surrounding this team is incredible, Nutrition from Julianne Larkin, the many S&C coaches utilising their expertise, the physios the sports psychologists and the coaching staff in Larne Swim Club working together to support each athlete to achieve their goals. Of course the facilities managers and owners are also a huge part of the success and need to be thanked, Larne Leisure Centre, Belfast Royal Academy, Crossfit Castrum, Peak Performance, Julianne Larkin Nutrition Sports Institute Northern Ireland and the University of Ulster.