Belfast Olympia's Continued Success
Belfast Olympia members don’t just present themselves well in their appearance; they also present good performances as they proved in two recent competitions.
The first was the RLSS National Speed Lifesaving Championships in Sheffield in March and the second was the Northern Ireland Lifesaving Championships held in Ballymena on 19th April.
In Sheffield they raised last year’s impressive team and individual tally of 70 medals up to 79 and in Ballymena they took gold in 5 out of the 6 categories as well as silver or bronze, proving that despite a strong interest in speed lifesaving they can also win when it comes to responding to simulated incidents in the pool and on land.
Club Coach Ruth Butler took 1st place in Ladies’ Open having demonstrated outstanding capability in her water rescue. Men’s Open trophy went to Patrick Bogue in his first year competing in that group. David Butler took 3rd place.
The Bogue family were also represented in the gold medal position for Junior Girls with Nuala Bogue being one half of the winning pair along with Rachael Henderson. Third place in that group went to Patricia Killen and Sara Toner while Junior Boys winners were Ruairi Barr and Patrick Short with2nd place going to Andrew Gilroy and Tom Dowling.
There was another family connection in Senior Girls with Mary Beth Toner and her partner Caoimhe Sheppard taking 2nd place. And of course gold in Senior Boys also went to the successful club this time it was Paul Raffo and Cathal Fitzpatrick who took the honours and they were joined in the medals by Thomas Southern and Conn McGrath who placed 3rd.
Most of these names featured in the winning ranks in Sheffield as well as some others.Junior Boy Ruairi Barr took five individual gold medals making him the highest ranking junior in the competition and placing him 2nd in the rankings for the prestigious Patricia Russell trophy presented to the highest achieving under 19 competitor. In fact it was Sarah Henderson, another Belfast Olympia competitor who walked away with it having taken gold in 4 out of 5 Senior Girls’ events plus bronze in 2 of the Open Ladies’ events. Her sister Rachael also had an impressive medal collection with 4 gold and 1 silver in individual events as well as relay medals won with teammates Emma Hartness, Nuala Bogue, Katherine O’Boyle, Patricia Killen and Rachael Goan.
Junior Boys’ team of Ruairi Barr, Patrick Short Andrew Gilroy and Tom Dowling took 3 relay golds and their Belfast Olympia counterparts in Senior Boys Ayman Nasr, Matthew Cosgrove, Cathal Fitzpatrick, Thomas Southern, Conn McGrath and Paul Raffo were all part of 4 medal winning teams.
Besides Sarah Henderson, Senior Girls were also in the medals with Mary Beth Toner taking gold in the 12metre line throw when she was fastest to pull her partner Tuaithla Murtagh in to touch the wall. Caoimhe Sheppard, Alexandra Gilroy and Lucy Southern along with Sarah and Mary Beth proved their capabilities when they took medals in 3 of their team events.
In the 7 Open Men’s events, David Butler obtained medals in them all with 3 gold 2 silver and 2 bronze. He even managed to set a new UK record for the Rescue Medley event where the competitor having completed a 50metre surface swim , has to travel 17 ½ metres underwater to pick up a rescue manikin which is then towed 32 ½ metres to the finish.
Speed lifesaving is a fast growing sport and of course a strong swimming base is needed but there is a lot more to it as participants have to learn how to pick up and tow large rescue manikins which are either half full or full of water depending on the age group. They also have to learn to swim with large carbon fibre fins, travel distances under water and throw ropes to rescue casualties. All these events are based on the kind of situations lifesavers might come across in real life so there are many advantages in participating in such a sport.