SWIMMING: Entries sought for North West schools' Gala

WITH less than two weeks to go until hundreds of pupils converge on the City Baths for the North West Schools' Swimming Association's annual gala showcase, schools are urged to submit their entries before Friday's deadline.

Wednesday, 18th May 2016, 2:34 pm
Updated Wednesday, 18th May 2016, 4:41 pm
St. Anne's PS swim team who won a total of 10 gold, 4 silver and 2 bronze medals at the 2015 North West Schools Swimming Association Gala held in William Street.

The gala, which takes place on Thursday, June 2nd, is one of the noisy highlights of the school year and a showcase event for the local schools’ swimming programme.

Last year, over 300 competitors from schools throughout the North West lined up for a total of 68 events in five different age groups, ranging from under 11 to under 16 years.

Schools from all over the Cityside, Waterside and rural areas took part, representing maintained, controlled and Irish Medium Schools.

While some of the swimmers taking the plunge on June 2nd for this year’s event will be seasoned competitors with City of Derry Amateur Swimming Club, others will be taking part in their first ever competitive gala.

Irrespective of their swimming credentials though, every last one of them will give their all as they battle for glory in individual events and fiercely contested school relay races.

The City Baths with its adjoining Learner Pool, has been the spiritual home of both the City of Derry ASC and the NWSSA since the 1960s. It’s where thousands of local youngsters tentatively dipped their toes in the water for their first ever swimming lessons.

And for some of them, success at the NWSSA gala is a stepping stone to even greater success in the pool.

Down through the years, many club swimmers have gone on to enjoy great national and international success, most notably Olympians Liam Ball and triathlete Aileen Reid (née Morrison). Other swimming champions who started out in William Street’s ‘wee’ pool include Ryan Harrison (his Irish records for 100m, 200m and 400m freestyle still stand), Kevin Wilson, Fergal Cosgrove, Stephanie Larkin and Leanne McLaughlin to name just a few.

The success of the schools’ swimming programme is testimony to the good working relationship between NWSSA, City of Derry Swimming Club and Derry City and Strabane District Council.

Siobhan Gillen, vice-principal of St Anne’s Primary School and current chairperson of NWSSA, recognises the benefit of having access to the City Baths and Learner Pool for the schools’ swimming programme.

“The Learner Pool at William Street is ideal for swimming lessons and is an invaluable resource for the schools’ swimming programme,” she said.

“Anyone who has either taught swimming or who has learnt to swim will know the value of having a shallow pool for both learners and improvers. The City Baths with its adjoining learner pool is pivotal for the success of schools’ swimming programme in the north west.”

Schools are reminded that all entries for the NWSSA gala on Thursday, June 2 should be submitted by Friday, May 20th. For further information contact Siobhan Gillen at St Anne’s PS, Derry on 02871263046 or email [email protected]