On THE Saturday closest to Remembrance Sunday, the Swim Ulster War Memorial Gala takes place, with 2021 marking the 100th anniversary of the awarding of the War Memorial Trophy.

The Gala includes a ceremony to commemorate all swimmers who fell in the two World Wars, and consists solely of relay events.

This year marked the 100th anniversary of the meet and was undoubtedly very poignant as not only does it remember those who died in the First and Second World Wars, but because of Covid-19, the event did not take place last year.

This year, the event took place at the new South Lakes Leisure Centre, Craigavon, in Long Course format, and local swimmer Ellie McCartney swam in three relays for the Ards Swimming Club.

She returned with two more relay team Irish Records and helped the club to two more cups.

First up was the Women’s 200m Freestyle Relay heat, where Ellie swam the third leg and helped the team to a new Irish Senior Long Course Record of 1:47.39.

The 16-year-old then swam the Mixed 200m Medley Relay Breaststroke leg, and the team smashed the Irish Junior Long Course Record by more than 5 seconds – now 1:55.57.

Before the finals, a Remembrance service took place with the pool lights dimmed and a bugler sounding the Last Post, followed by a one-minute silence.

Lines from Laurence Binyon’s poem, ‘For the Fallen’, were read, and the ceremony ended with Reveille, sounded by the bugler.

When the swimmers returned to the pool, the Ards club dominated the finals, winning five out of ten relays. Ellie was involved in two of these successes, winning cups in both 200m Freestyle Relay and 200m Medley Relay.

Earlier in the week Swim Ireland announced the 35 swimmers accepted onto the National Programme for 2021-22.

Ellie was announced in Performance Pathway Cohort, a group of eight swimmers for athletes with a primary focus on the Los Angeles 2028 Olympics.

This is the third year that now 16-year-old McCartney has featured in the National Panel.

Also announced this week was the appointment of Kevin Anderson, formerly the Head Coach of the Mississauga swimming programme in Ontario, Canada, who has been appointed as Head Coach of the National Centre Ulster that Ellie attends.