Gala success for Portadown swimmers

Portadown swimmers celebrate victory in the Arthur McDonald Memorial gala.INPT47-200
Portadown swimmers celebrate victory in the Arthur McDonald Memorial gala.INPT47-200

Portadown dominated across the individual and team sections to secure a second Arthur McDonald Memorial overall prize in club history.

The meeting for 8-11 year olds left Portadown with a second main title to match the 2000 achievement, plus six gold medals from the eight individual sections.

The memorial event - first established in 1998 - featured host club Newry and Mourne plus Portadown, Lurgan and Armagh.

The town competitors came out on top with 294 points to see off Newry and Mourne (238 points), Lurgan (172 points) and Armagh (72 points).

The medley relays sparked into life with second spot before a run of three consecutive wins for Portadown.

That form extended into the freestyle relays as Portadown produced second, first and first before a memorable closing challenge.

Lillie-May Ruddy entered the final leg down by 10 metres but cut the gap to one one-hundredth of a second for a dramatic runner-up position.

Portadown had athletes within 30 of the 32 individual events and club representatives posted a string of fresh personal best times.

The final tally of six individual wins arrived thanks to Amy Johnson, Jessica Vennard, Darragh Branagh, Alex Withers, Adam Brown, Lillie-May Ruddy.

It marked a fitting finale to novice level for many members of the squad - plus should provide the next generation with inspiration.

Another highlight arrived when Marshall Clint and Daniel Vennard from Clounagh Junior High School joined St Patrick’s Academy’s Ellen Smylie as club representatives at the Irish Age Groups Division One finals.

Swimmers from America, Canada, Dubai, England and Scotland arrived at the Irish National Aquatic Centre - with the Portadown competitors on show across the breaststroke class for 13 year olds.

Another Clounagh pupil, Anna Johnston, qualified for the 12-year-olds’ Irish Age Groups Division Two finals across the backstroke and freestyle finals in Limerick.