LIMERICK’S OLYMPIC Games qualifier Fiona Doyle and Larne’s Conor Ferguson were last night named Senior & Junior Performance Athletes of the Year at the Swim Ireland Annual Awards at the Titanic Centre, Belfast. Doyle, who qualified for the Olympic Games in July last year, had an outstanding year in 2015 and won the award based on her performances in particular at the World University Games where she won 50m Breaststroke silver and 100m Breaststroke Bronze, as well as qualifying for the Games. Conor Ferguson was named Junior Performance Swimmer of the Year, a new award introduced in 2016 to recognise the fantastic achievements of Ireland’s junior swimmers. Ferguson won two silver medals at the European Youth Olympic Festival in July and went on to win Gold, two silvers and a bronze medal at the Commonwealth Youth Games in September.
The 2016 inductees into the Swim Ireland Hall of Fame were Peter Banks and Eddie Heron. Peter Banks, Swim Ireland National Performance Director, has been involved in coaching in Ireland since his 20’s. Banks was appointed as Swim Ireland National Performance Director in May 2009. He moved from Ireland to Florida in 1989 to further his career and is one of the most experienced and well respected swimming coaches and leaders, not only in the United States but throughout the world.
He has coached age-group, National, International and Olympic swimmers including American swimmers Brooke Bennett, winner of three individual Olympic Gold Medals (1996 Atlanta and 2000 Sydney) and Maritza Correia, silver medalist as part of the USA Women’s 4x100m Freestyle Team Relay (2004 Athens).
Eddie Heron was the last and only Diver to represent Ireland at an Olympic Games in London in 1948 and it was fitting that Ireland’s current Olympic qualifier in Diving, Oliver Dingley, presented the award. Eddie was born in Dublin in 1910 and competed from the age of 13 into his 60s and 70’s at Blackrock Baths. Eddie passed away in 1985 but he is remembered by the members of Sandycove Swimming Club with an annual race and a plaque near Blackrock Baths.
A total of 22 awards which celebrate and honour the fantastic work and outstanding accomplishments of Swim Ireland’s athletes, coaches and volunteers were handed out on the night including 2015 World Championship Bronze medallist and 2016 Paralympic Games qualifier Ellen Keane who collected the Disability Swimmer of the Year award; Anne Burdis of Portmarnock Swimming Club was the first female to collect the Club Coach of the Year Award; UCD Swimming Coach Earl McCarthy was named Performance Coach of the Year; Club of the Year was Banbridge ASC; Club Volunteer of the Year Caitriona McMahon and National Volunteer of the Year Phillip Fitzpatrick.
Speaking after the event, Swim Ireland’s Chief Executive Officer Sarah Keane commented: “The annual awards night gives Swim Ireland the opportunity to celebrate the hard work and dedication that everyone puts into our sports. We are delighted this year to celebrate the great achievements of our athletes and coaches and to recognise our volunteers for their hard work and commitment. 2015 was particularly successful year and we are very proud of the achievements of the whole aquatics family”.
2015 Swim Ireland Award Winners
2015 Connacht Region Club of the Year
2015 Leinster Club of the Year
2015 Munster Club of the Year
Sundays Well SC
2015 Ulster Region Club of the Year
2015 Swim Ireland Volunteer of the Year (National/Regional)
2015 Swim Ireland Volunteer of the Year (Club)
2015 Swim Ireland Open Water Swimmer of the Year
2015 Swim Ireland Disability Swimmer of the Year
2015 Masters Outstanding Achievement Award
2015 Swim Ireland Club Athlete of the Year
2015 Swim Ireland Club Coach of the Year
2015 Swim Ireland Local Media Award
2015 Swim Ireland Performance Athlete of the Year (Senior)
2015 Swim Ireland Performance Athlete of the Year (Junior)
2015 Swim Ireland Performance Coach of the Year
2015 Swim Ireland Outstanding Contribution to Water Polo
2015 Swim Ireland Club of the Year
2016 Swim Ireland President’s Award Fred Kerr
2016 Hall of Fame Inductee Eddie Heron
2016 Hall of Fame Inductee Peter Banks