Thursday, June 22, 2006

Irish swimmers walk on water!!! Day 5 Thessaloniki Greece

Day 5


100m Backstroke John Kealy 1:00.56 1st= GOLD
Vincent McArdle 1:12.1 8th

50m Butterfly David McIlroy 26.44 3rd= BRONZE
John Kealy 26.33 1st= GOLD

4 x 100m Eoin Nolan 53.76
David McIlroy 56.84
Alan Turner 57.95
John Kealy 54.02 1st= GOLD

Turner has never seen Kealy so tense before a race. The 100m backstroke which no one has beaten him since 1989 is Kealy’s favourite stroke. Understandably the pressure was on him to maintain this unbeatable record. McArdle, whose birthday is today, looked nervous in the line up. A medal would be the perfect present for McArdle who turned 17 today. As the men clung tightly onto the bar at the diving pad to propulse them in the water, hearts beat wildly hoping for the best for our two Irish men. To our horror, Kealy’s starting lights did not work, as the other swimmers flew backwards into the air, Kealy realised the lights were not working and immediately leaped backwards into the water to join the swimmers. Our hearts were on the floor as it was the worst start possible!! Kealy was now the last swimmer in the 1st 25m. McArdle’s pace was looking good. It was obvious that Kealy was anxious to join the 1st 3 men in the lead as he flung his arms backwards as quick and as hard as he could. Soon he was in the first 3, everyone cheered with delight, he was a “bolt from the blue!” Turner said “ He swam faster than he did in Melbourne. I have never seen Kealy so tense before.” In the final 25m, Kealy was in the lead all the way,with a wonderful comeback it was only right that he came first! “He had a terrible start, he was left behind. He’s still a king! No one has beaten him in this stroke since 1989!” says Turner
McArdle finished last however Turner praised him for making it to the final. “ It was a good experience for him. The main event for McArdle is the 1500 which he is in the final for on Friday. I’m confident he will get a medal.”

McIlroy and Kealy swam together in the butterfly. A healthy rivalry between the two lads was born in Melbourne, McIlroy holds the WR for this stroke, he beat Kealy to first place in Melbourne. Now they were against each other once again. McIlroy, a man of many hidden talents, has a cool laid-back attitude about him. He was not fazed by the pressure on him to beat Kealy again. As the green lights went on, the men leapt into the air and dived with such a skill. No matter how many times I see swimmers dive, it fascinates me. It’s a beautiful and graceful movement. McIlroy was in the lead for the first 30m, until Kealy overtook! Ukraine was also trying to overtake Kealy and McIlroy. It was impossible to tell who came first as it looked as if all three touched the finishing line at the same time. All eyes swifted to the scoreboard, the Irish supporters roared with delight, Kealy came first!! McIlroy came third!! A good day for the Irish! Turner said “ Kealy is an unbelievable swimmer, he’s the 2nd oldest man in the event! You’ll never see someone like him again. McIlroy could be a superstar swimmer if he trains a lot more! He could possibly be better than Kealy!! I’m very proud of the lads!”

4 x 100m relay, the most anticipated race of the E.C, it is where four members of the team swim two laps each, as soon as a swimmer touches the finishing line, the second swimmer dives in and swims and so on. The starting line was looking a crowded with 32 men ( 8 teams). It didn’t take a genius with good taste to figure out that not only did the Irish have the best team, but we had the best looking team!!! Nolan was up first, he has been really successful in the event and it was important that the Irish team got a good start! Nolan was the man to do that! With his “Nolan Pace”, the team rested easy knowing that he would bring the team in the lead. Nolan admitted he felt the pressure he was under. Nolan dived in, McIlroy was watching his pace as he was due to take up Nolan’s lead next. The Irish were in the lead all the way through until Turner dived in, the Russians had caught up with McIlroy, so the pressure was on Turner to break away and keep the Irish in the lead. As the saying goes, the Russian was like a bad smell that just wouldn’t go away!! In the return lap, Turner was swimming as fast as he could, but it was not enough, the Russian got the lead before Kealy could dive in, the Russian was already making his way for the 1st 50m. Kealy was the man to do it, the magical comeback man could do it! Kealy dived in and swam like he never swam before. Before we knew it, Kealy overtook the Russian! The battle was not over yet, Ukraine sneaked up without Kealy and the supporters realising, now the two were incredibly close. In the last 25m, it looked as if Ukraine was going to win the gold, but Kealy somehow made first to the finishing line. Cheers and cries of delight filled the pool hall, Kealy looked up at the supporters not realising how close he was to coming second!! I felt as if I had been swimming the event myself, I was exhausted from all the shouting and cheering!!The Ireland team has won gold in the relay in 1994 and 2002. It was a huge moment for the team, especially Turner who announced his resignation from swimming. “ The race reminded me of Melbourne, it was almost the same race! I was hoping for WR but it was not to be on the day. I’m glad we beat Ukraine. I expected to win but not that close! Thanks to all the supporters for making it an exciting race!”

Comment for the day:

Vicki Power
Ireland Team Sports Massager

“ I had a great time working with deaf people, it’s a totally new experience for me. The team are amazing, hopefully I helped them with my magic fingers. I am very proud to be part of a winning team. The director Ken and secretary S-J had everything organised extremely well. So far, it has been a brilliant week!”


At 1:45 AM, Blogger Paul Ryder said...

Just wanna to say congratulation to all swimmers with a their great achievements in Thessaloniki. 8 gold’s and 2 bronzes so far…’s brilliant! More to come…Come on Lads! Vincent is a young lad, did it fantastic so far!
Give credit to Sarah Jane for her hard worker to give us the update news from Thessaloniki. That goes same to Ken Mcgrath and Vicki Power! Hope she will come with Waterpolo team for European Deaf Championship in Hungry on September 06!!


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