City of Belfast SC began their 2017 PTL campaign with a home fixture against Dungannon SC on Saturday 24th September. Due to the closure of Andersonstown Leisure Centre in May,  COB had to arrange the fixture at the Grove pool in North Belfast. The loss of Andersonstown has meant significantly reduced capacity for spectators, and this unfortunately had an impact on the atmosphere generated by parents and supporters at the gala.
New Head Coach, Steve McQuillan, was keen to invite as many COB swimmers as possible to compete in the gala, and many young swimmers made impressive debuts for COB, including Chloe and Sophia Young, Kate Kane, Isabella Ward, Lizzy Samm and Elise Smyth. For the boys, debutants included Jack Heatherington, Joe McKay, Dan Kinder, Alex Watson and Evan Coulter.
The Group A and B races were all keenly contested against the strong Dungannon swimmers. Dulcie Bowden was impressive in winning her individual and IM races, and Darya Dulseva posted some very fast swims in Group B. For the younger boys, Alex Watson was very impressive in all his Group A starts, alongside an inspired Fiontan Murtagh. Donncha McGurk swam very well in a hotly contested Boys Group B section.
However, it was in the older Age Group races that COB looked strongest with big points tallies from Olivia McCrea, Zoe Magee, Alex McCrea and Florence Tindsley; while Jericho Balgos dominated the Group C boys races. Head Coach, Steve McQuillan, showed good form in Group D alongside Iain Chisholm,  Michael Hewitt and Cormac McCrudden.
The dominance of the Group C and D swimmers contributed to a narrow overall victory for COB on a scoreline of COB 589; Dungannon 552. The tightness of the scoreline made for a very exciting gala, and thanks to Dungannon for comtributing to such a sporting contest. Thanks also to all the parent volunteers for ensuring a smooth running gala, and to all who helped with the post-gala refreshments .
Stephen Mckay
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