2010 proved to be an outstanding year for Irish swimming so it was fitting that Swim Ireland held its Inaugural Awards Evening this weekend at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Dublin to celebrate and honour the fantastic work and outstanding accomplishments of its athletes, coaches and volunteers in 2010. To add to the spectacle of the evening, past Olympians (from the aquatic disciplines) were invited to the event where they were each honoured with a commemorative Swim Ireland Olympic medal presented by Mr. Pat Hickey, President of the Olympic Council of Ireland. Over 250 members of the aquatics community were in attendance.
Ireland’s oldest living Olympians for swimming, Mr. Paddy Kavanagh and Mr. Ernest ‘Square’ McCartney both attended the celebration .The two men, now in their late eighties have remained friends to this day – well after their swimming careers ended in the 1950’s.
Speaking after the event, Swim Ireland’s Chief Executive Officer Ms. Sarah Keane commented: “Hosting the event gave us an opportunity to look back at some of the great people and memories of our sport and to celebrate great successes and achievements and of course to meet old and new friends. It was an evening for the Irish aquatic family to get together to acknowledge and cheer the past, present and future of our sport.”
Among the award winners were Grainne Murphy/Limerick swimming club (High Performance Swimmer of the Year), Bill McCarthy/ESB swimming club (Club Coach of the Year), Anne Marie Ward/Irish Long Distance Swimming Association (Open Water Swimmer of the Year), James Scully/NAC swimming club (Disability Swimmer of the Year) and Kells Swimming Club (Club of the Year).
The final part of the evening saw the induction into the Swim Ireland Hall of Fame of some very special individuals who have contributed an outstanding amount of their time and passion to the aquatics in Ireland throughout their lifetime. The Hall of Fame cabinet is located in the foyer of the National Aquatic Centre (NAC) in Abbotstown, Dublin. The first inductees into the Hall of Fame were: Mrs. Ronnie Ball (RIP), Mr.
Arthur Dunne (RIP), Mrs. Pat Donovan and Mrs. Bettie Beattie. Mr. Dave Conway, Director of Operations for the NAC made these special presentations.
In conjunction with the Awards Night, the NAC has also erected a Swim Ireland past Olympians Honour Roll, which can also be seen in the foyer of the NAC.
Hopefully 2011 will be an equally good – if not better – year with swimmers like Grainne Murphy, Sycerika McMahon, Melanie Nocher and Barry Murphy all hoping to qualify for London 2012. May seem a long way off just yet but ‘times flies’