Everything Is Going Swimmingly For Kingdom SC’s Jack Grace

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Jack Grace.

KINGDOM Swimming Club swimmer Jack Grace recently won gold at the National Irish Short Course (SC) Championships for the 100 Freestyle at the National Aquatic Centre Dublin.

This was a huge achievement for the 21 year old Listowel native and another step closer to his dream of making an Irish Olympic or European Championship swimming team.

Jack, a longstanding Kingdom swimmer since the age of 10, progressed up through the squads in the Club to the Senior squad under head coach Ger McDonnell.

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He competed at provincial and national level over the years making finals at summer nationals. While obligations for Leaving Certificate and intermittent shoulder injuries caused his performance to plateau somewhat in his late teens, he decided to commit fully when he started University at UL nearly three years ago.

While in 1st year studying Chemical and Biochemical Engineering he was chosen to join the Swim Ireland Performance Pathway Squad at the National Centre Limerick. By 2nd year he was awarded the Swim Ireland scholarship, an award he received again this year.

Now in 3rd year of his degree at UL, Jack trains nine times per week under Swim Ireland coach John Szaranek.

Five of these sessions are early mornings with Jack poolside at 5.15am finishing at 7.30am. He has four evening sessions per week of two hour duration also.

This doesn’t include his gym work which can be two-three times per week.  His biggest challenge is trying to eat enough food to fuel all the training!

The 6ft 4’ athlete is also a triplet. “I was supposed to be born in March but due to complications we came early on the 26th December,” said Jack. “Sadly my brother Mark passed away at 12 days old but I have my sister Hannah and we are very close. People don’t believe we are even related as I’m so tall & she is only 5ft 2’ but I’m technically two minutes older than her!”

While in previous years Jack made finals at the National SC Championship, he didn’t medal. He says “it has taken the last three years of me consistently working hard and adjusting to the training at UL for me to finally see progress and reach the podium this year, gold being a massive bonus for me.”

Where he used to train 6-7 times per week covering up to 13-15km, he now trains at least 9 times per week and covers 45-50km. His training with John has also become more individualised to his own events.

This achievement has Jack feeling confident heading into the 2020 Long Course (LC) season. “I feel better at long course swimming in the 50m pool, dives and turns are not my forte so long course just suits me better”.

Winning gold at the National SC is a good indicator for the LC season ahead. ‘My ultimate goal this year is to qualify for the Irish 4 x 100 Freestyle Relay Team or 4 x 200 Freestyle Relay Team either for Olympics or European Championships. Competition is fierce but I have a chance’. This will all be decided in April at the Irish Open Championships which incorporates Olympic trials.

Commitment and hard work are clearly not an issue. Jack says he simply loves to swim and it is very much part of his life.

“Many of my friends are from Kingdom Swimming Club or through swimming. I live with my best friend Cillian Tierney, an Irish Triathlete (also from Kingdom SC), my sister Hannah (his triplet) who trains with the Swim Ireland Para Development Squad and other swimmers from the Performance Pathway Squad. We all love what we do and have a lot in common.”

“Kingdom Swimming Club is where competitive swimming started for me. Coaches Mike and Tim O’Connell and Ger McDonnell spent hours and hours working with me on technique, turns, dives, all the different strokes and some gruelling endurance work. I wouldn’t be where I am today in my swimming career without each of them. I’m loving representing Kingdom and am looking forward to building on my success in the future.”

Everyone at Kingdom SC are so proud of Jack’s achievements and wish him every success this year.

Ger McDonnell head coach stated “Jack is a testament to a determined goal driven swimmer. Jack always set himself high goals since he joined the Kingdom S.C. Despite numerous setbacks Jack got himself back up, dusted himself down and set about reaching his goals again. It would have been very easy for Jack to give up on his dreams once he went to college but through determination and no small amount of sweat he is now realising his potential.”

“Here in Kingdom SC we are rightly very proud of Jack but also very proud of the club for the assistance, knowledge and support we have provided in enabling this delightful young man in chasing his dream. All our swimmers young and old now have a recognisable role model to aspire to. Go on Jack Grace”.

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