Swimming, bikes and track make perfect chemistry at St Mary’s Derry

NEW SWIM & TRIATHLON ACADEMY LAUNCHED. . . . .Group pictured at the launch of the St. Mary's College Swim and Triathlon Academy at the school last week. Included are team members Ava Canny, Nina Margey, Kat Gallagher, Abbie-Lee Millar, Louise Harkin Zara Burke, Hannah Farrell, Aoibhe McLaughlin, Abigail Harkin and Rachel McLaren. On left are Mrs. Marie Lindsay, Principal, Colleen Gibbons, Head of PE, Gavin Molloy, Technology Teacher, St. Mary's College and Secretary, NW Triathlon Club, Seamus McAnee and Carmel Gorman, City of Derry Swimming Club; and on right, Odhran O'Kane, No 2 Triathlete, Ireland, Jennifer Martin, PE Teacher, Claire McGarrity, PE Teacher, Gerard Curran, Head Coach, Swim and Triathlon Academy and Gerry McDermott, Chairperson, North West Triathlon Club. Front centre, kneeling is Niamh McNamee and Aoife Wilson, NW Triathlete Club and both past pupils.

NEW SWIM & TRIATHLON ACADEMY LAUNCHED. . . . .Group pictured at the launch of the St. Mary's College Swim and Triathlon Academy at the school last week. Included are team members Ava Canny, Nina Margey, Kat Gallagher, Abbie-Lee Millar, Louise Harkin Zara Burke, Hannah Farrell, Aoibhe McLaughlin, Abigail Harkin and Rachel McLaren. On left are Mrs. Marie Lindsay, Principal, Colleen Gibbons, Head of PE, Gavin Molloy, Technology Teacher, St. Mary's College and Secretary, NW Triathlon Club, Seamus McAnee and Carmel Gorman, City of Derry Swimming Club; and on right, Odhran O'Kane, No 2 Triathlete, Ireland, Jennifer Martin, PE Teacher, Claire McGarrity, PE Teacher, Gerard Curran, Head Coach, Swim and Triathlon Academy and Gerry McDermott, Chairperson, North West Triathlon Club. Front centre, kneeling is Niamh McNamee and Aoife Wilson, NW Triathlete Club and both past pupils.

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A school lab technician is forging ahead with plans to make St Mary’s College a school that is recognised for excellence in swimming and triathlons.

By day Gerard Curran spends his day surrounded by bunsen burners and test-tubes, but outside of the white coat and safety glasses, his first love is swimming.

So he’s dipping his toe outside of the Science department for the first time, and partnering up with the Physical Education department as the school forges ahead with plans to form their first ever swimming and triathlon academy.

For Colleen Gibbons, head of P.E. at St Mary’s College, it’s an exciting time for the school.

“We’ve selected a few girls to come forward as we start the academy,” she said. “But I’ve already had requests from other girls looking to take part. The plan is to start small but it’s something that we really expect to see growing.”

Interest has been shown from year 8, 9 and 10.

“Gerard Curran, science technician at St Mary’s and also a tri-athlete is our head coach. We had the girls in the pool last week and they put in a hard session.”

The coaches are now looking to the future to seeing the girls compete in aquathons, duathlons and even tri-athlons, with the first event in March.

Gavin Curran, coach, explained how he had been swimming for most of his life and was looking forward to passing on his skills to the pupils.

“I think we’ve all seen how popular sports such as running have become,” he said. “The numbers involved in triathlons have rocketed. There’s a real appetite for it. There are a number of duathlons on the calendar. It’s great to see the girls geared up and we’re looking forward to keeping going.

“Swimming is a life skill and the younger the girls can get started with skills like these the better.”

The girls themselves say they are looking forward to getting stuck into the Triathlon training.

“We are really fit,” one of the pupils said. “And play Football, Gaelic and Judo. There’s no reason that sport for girls can’t be as popular as it is for boys.”