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Ards dive right in to be confirmed as simply the best

By David Kelly

Having already celebrated being named the Swim Ireland club of the year, Ards enjoyed more success when their young guns blasted their way to the Forest Feast Aqua Sprint title.

Ards were the first winners of the event in 1986 when they hosted the final and 29 years later at the same venue, Ards Leisure Centre, they became the first club to complete a hat-trick of victories, led by captains Rebekah Burrows and Zach Balfour.

Battling it out with Banbridge and old rivals Bangor, the result came down to the last couple of relays with the decibel level off the scale.

Ards started off by winning the first relay of the night before Bangor responded by winning the second. After sharing the next two relays, it was on to the individual age group events over 25 metres when among others, Ards had outstanding performances from Ellie McKibben, Killian McCandless, Amelia Kane and Madeline Calvert - the 12-year-old clocking 13 seconds for the 25m freestyle.

When it came down to the last couple of relays, Ards took the touch in both to end up with a winning total of 317 points. Bangor had 281 and Banbridge 237.

Ards coach Norma Munn, who leads their Aqua Sprint set-up, said: "We have now gone 18 galas in the league unbeaten - that's one club against the other. That's five Aqua Sprint league seasons and now we have won the last three Aqua Sprint finals.

"It is really special... to win three in a row is amazing.

"Everyone swam out of their skins and they deserved it and I have to thank all my coaches for all their hard work because it's not just about me, we have a great team of coaches.

"Our captains Rebekah and Zach did a great job and we had some great individual performances and the atmosphere was amazing.

"We have some future stars in the making in this team and we'll be working hard to make sure we hold on to the trophy next year."

Belfast Telegraph

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