Day one of the annual Dave Mc Cullagh Memorial Gala got underway at the University of Limerick on Friday evening with eight National titles claimed at the UL Arena National 50 metre swimming pool.
The meet is the first long course competition of 2011 and the first qualifying opportunity for a number of International meets this summer.
NAC-High Performance Centre swimmers Niamh O’Sullivan (UCD swim team) and Karl Burdis (Portmarnock swim team) were in action in the 800m freestyle and 50m backstroke respectively, both claiming gold in their events.
With both swimmers eligible to qualify for this summer’s major senior meet – the World long course Championships in Shanghai, China – both have just two Irish meets at which they can secure their selection for the summer showdown; this competition and the long course National Championships in April.
James Scully, one of the youngest members of Ireland’s Paralympic panel for 2012 was in action in the 50m backstroke, clocking a time of 48.18 seconds. James is ranked 4th in the World in his best event, the 200m freestyle (S5 category), and is one of our medal hopes for the London 2012 Paralympic Games.
Aisling Cooney showed great speed in the 50m backstroke today, clocking a 29.72 seconds in the final to take gold – one tenth off the qualification standard for this summer’s World University Games in Shenzhen, China.
Other winners today were Christopher Bryan (1500m freestyle), ESB Women’s team (200m freestyle relay – new Irish Senior Record), City of Lisburn Men’s team (200m freestyle relay), Emmet Crowley (50m breaststroke) and Sycerika Mc Mahon (50m breaststroke).
The late Dave Mc Cullagh was the first Director of Swimming to the Irish Amateur Swimming Association and held the post for nine years, dedicating his life to the development of coaching and swimming in Ireland, before he passed away after a long battle against cancer on 21st October 2002. Six months later, the National Aquatic Centre at Abbotstown opened – which was a dream which he worked tirelessly for. The Dave Mc Cullagh Memorial Gala is held annually in his honour.
The competition resumes tomorrow, with the heats starting at 9am and finals at 5pm.
With contenders for European silverware set to emerge from another tension-packed conclusion...