Nine Lakelanders swimmers made the journey to the Lagan Valley Leisureplex in Lisburn last weekend to compete in the Templemore Minor Open Gala. For some of the young swimmers this was their first experience of a competitive gala of this type and there was a lot of nerves evident prior to the start of the event.
The first event of the day for the team was the gruelling 200m Individual Medley, six of the nine swimmers braved this event. 
For some it was their very first time to swim this race, which requires a lot of tactical know how and endurance. Despite this all six managed to achieve great PBs. Three of the younger swimmers, Ellie Dunlop, Molly Rice and Anna Cairns were drawn in the very first heat. Anna was disappointed with her first leg, the 50m butterfly but she fought back in the other three disciplines and finished with a time of 3min 54sec, to record a 6 second PB. 
 Molly achieved a time of 3min 58sec, which was a 2 second PB and sets a target for her to better in upcoming galas. Ellie also achieved a time of 3min 58sec making her the fastest 9-year-old in the water and securing her a silver medal in the 9-10year age category.
Three of the older swimmers also swam the 200m IM. In the 12-year-old age group, Cora Cassidy finished in a time of 3min 36sec taking 6 seconds of her previous best time. In the 13-year-old age group Molly Johnston smashed her previous best by 15 seconds, finishing with a time of 3min 42 sec. Ciosa McConnell, also swimming in the 13-year-old age group, swam a time of 3min 25sec which was a 6 second PB, helped very much by a strong butterfly leg.
The second event was the 50m Freestyle, which saw the two Lakelanders boys enter the fray. Both Hayden James and Jonah Balfour swam 3 second PBs, Hayden in a time of 49sec and Jonah in 55sec. This event also saw the first swim for Darcy Balfour who swam a 1.18sec PB and finishing just outside the top ten, in 11th position. Anna Cairns also had a strong swim, securing 14th place with a time of 42sec. Molly Rice also produced a strong swim in this event only just missing out on a PB. Cora Cassidy finished sixth overall in the 12-year-old age group in a time of 38sec, a 2.5sec PB. Ciosa McConnell also swam her best ever time in this event, securing her a top ten finish in the 13-year-old age group.
The next event was the 100m breaststroke. All five swimmers that swam in the event recorded PBs. Anna swam a time of 2min 02sec, taking almost 6sec off her previous best. Molly Rice knocked almost 7 seconds off her best in a time of 2min 04sec. Molly Johnston and Ciosa shaved over a second off their bests, 1min 41sec and 1min 39sec respectively. It was Ellie Dunlop who was the star performer though, smashing her PB by almost 10 seconds (1min 50sec) and securing her second silver medal of the meet.
Five of the girls, Ellie, Anna, Molly Rice, Cora and Ciosa competed in the 50m butterfly. PBs were recorded by Ellie, Molly and Ciosa. Ellie was once again the fastest 9-year-old in the pool, finishing seventh in the 9-10 age group.
In the 50m breaststroke both boys, Hayden and Jonah, had great swims to record identical times of 1min 12 sec, a great experience for both boys. Five of the girls also swam in this event, Molly Rice, Cora and Ciosa also finished fifth in their respective age groups. Molly Johnston swam a very strong race to finish fourth overall, just outside the medals. Both Mollys and Ciosa achieved their fastest ever time! Once again, however, it was Ellie Dunlop who really announced her arrival in competitive swimming. Ellie swam another 10second PB and won her third silver medal of the day. Once again she was the fastest 9-year-old only being pipped to the top spot by a swimmer a year old. She is surely a young swimmer with a very promising future in the sport.
As the day was drawing to a close the young swimmers were visibly drained. Despite this both Hayden and Jonah had strong swims in the 50m backstroke. 
Again five of the girls swam in this event, with PBs being achieved by Ellie, Anna and Cora. Ellie finished in sixth place, Anna in seventh and Cora was unlucky to finish just outside the medals in fourth, in their respective age groups.
The final event of the day was the 100m Freestyle. Hayden produced a strong swim to secure a 13 second PB in a time of 2min 06sec. Ellie, Anna, Cora and Ciosa all swam PBs, with Darcy and Molly Johnston narrowly missing out on their’s.
All the swimmers had a great day out and gained valuable experience and confidence for upcoming events. 
The number of PBs recorded is testament to the advances made by these young Lakelanders under the guidance of Head Coach Rob Eynon and volunteer coaches, Fionna Martin and Claire Morris. 
They look forward to continued improvement in their times before the end of the swimming season.