After a long swim season with many highlights, Niamh O’Kane and Jake Cadden made the long journey to the fantastic Sports Arena at University Limerick where last weekend they competed against swimmers from all over Ireland in the Freestyle, Butterfly and Backstroke at the 2017 Irish Age Groups national event.

By the end of the weekend, both swimmers had collected huge personal bests, and with Niamh reaching the Finals on Saturday, both swimmers went home very pleased with their achievements after having given it their all in the pool.

Jake, who is only 11 years old but was competing in the 12/13 age group, took to the pool first for the Lakelanders on Friday morning and despite having a rough year due to illness/injury he was delighted to be back at his second National competition in two years representing the Lakelanders in front of a packed gallery.

He was hoping to make a good start to his weekend in his first race, the 100 metre backstroke and was thrilled when he had a PB placing him 12th overall with a time of 1.19.06.

Following on, Niamh’s first swim saw her compete in the 200 Free, with a pre-competition qualifying time of 2:32.9. Her split times over the first 100 were an excellent 1:11.32 and she finished the 200-metre course in a time of 2:26.05 which was a huge 6.85 second PB.

The level of swimming within this event was very strong and Niamh finished one place outside the Finals positions within her age group. Despite this, as Rob her swim coach always says, the PB is all important and shows continued improvement in this stroke.

Saturday saw the turn of the 100 Butterfly for Niamh, who went into the event seeded in the gold medal position based on her qualifying time of 1:16.55, achieved earlier in the season.

Completing the first 50 in 35.61, Niamh easily completed the 100-metre course and qualified at a canter for the finals in the evening session as one of the nine fastest swimmers in her age group from a field of 30 competitors.

On the menu before the final was lots of rest to maintain the energy levels needed to get on the podium.

Jake’s second event of the Irish Age Groups saw him on Saturday compete again in the Backstroke, this time over his preferred 200 metres. Seeded 15th before competing in a time of 2:58.07, this proved to be Jake’s greatest success over the weekend as he took a huge 8.42 seconds off his qualifying time to complete the 200-metre course in 2:49.65, which saw him move into 11th, and just narrowly missing out on reaching the Finals as first reserve that evening by just 1.5 seconds.

Although one of the youngest swimmers in his age group Jake was proud of his overall weekend’s performance and looks forward to some well-earned rest and next year’s competitions.

On Saturday Evening, Niamh confidently took to the starting blocks in the Finals of the 100 Metre Butterfly.

A powerful start saw her lead the nine strong field at the 25-metre turn, however due to a slip off the wall after 50 metres which cost her valuable seconds, she saw her chances of achieving a medal slip away and in the end finished strongly and was delighted to have reached the finals at her third consecutive National competition.

Niamh’s final swim was the 100 free on Sunday morning, where among a field of 180 swimmers, Niamh just failed to make the finals on Sunday evening but still took a huge 1.96 seconds off her previous PB to finish in a time of 1:07.13.

Niamh and Jake were delighted to represent the Enniskillen Lakelanders at the Irish Age Groups in Limerick, where they had a very successful weekend’s competition, and despite the long journey back, both swimmers were back in the pool for two hours training the following Monday morning.