Isle of Man
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Isle of Man
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Andrew McGeehan, Ewan Donnell, Luke Seed and Ryan Aitken will be represented the Isle of Man, joining them were 270 athletes from 28 European countries.
Princess Charlene of Monaco Swimming Meeting 2014
Four Special Olympics Isle of Man swimmers participated at the Princess Charlene of Monaco Swimming Meeting; the two day event took place on the 28th and 29th March.
Luke Seed 25m Freestyle Silver
Luke Seed 50m Freestyle Gold
Andrew McGeehan 50m Freestyle Gold
Andrew McGeehan 100m Freestyle Gold
Ryan Aitken 50m Freestyle S.T.
Ryan Aitken 50m Backstroke Bronze
Ewan Donnell 50m Freestyle 4th
Ewan Donnell 50m Breaststroke Bronze
So there are 2, 5 o'clock's in one day!
We left a cold and wet Island heading south to sunny Monaco for a swimming competition with 266 other swimmers.
Landing at Gatwick we had to wait half an hour for out stand where there was another jet sitting on it! Instead of just giving us another one, they made us wait on the apron until it went out for its slot.
We took some breakfast in a murky Gatwick and got back in the air to Nice in southern France. Nice was very nice and we were taken by our minibus driver Pascal who works with Special Olympics and coaches skiing in the winter and cycling in the summer. Pascal gave us a whistle stop tour of Nice through the industrial part of town through to Monaco some 24 Km along the beautiful coastline.
We stopped at the port of Cap D'ail at the hotel called Quai des Prince. There were some fantastic yachts moored up in the marina and they must have been worth 100's of millions of pounds.
We got some supplies (Beryl's milk for her tea) from the local supermarket which was the size of 2 football pitches. We were then taken for a walk along the marina for some dinner and a stroll back for an early night.
As the swimming pool is only a 5 minute walk from the hotel, we didn't have to get up at silly o'clock so went for our continental breakfast to set us up for the day. Ryan woke with a sore leg but when he rested it on a magic box with some magic spray on it, it became miraculously better.
After checking in, the swimmers took their turn through the morning to go through staging to their preliminary events to set their divisions for the finals the following day.
Apart from the one event, everyone rose to the occasion and broke their entered times which was fantastic.
After the prelims and some lunch we went for a walk along the harbour to a little beach for a drink and an ice cream.
Walking back to the hotel, we noticed one of the yachts that was 45 metres long (almost twice the length of the NSC swimming pool!) Was registered in Douglas Isle of Man and was flying the Manx flag. We had a chat with the engineer and struck a conversation and wangled an invite onto the yacht later in the trip (hopefully more to follow on this)
The opening ceremony was in the adjacent basketball hall and was able to take all the teams comfortably. The speeches and the show were not long but the wait to get into the hall was a good 2 hours :0 ((((
Pizza for tea went down very well then a stroll back talking to the loved ones back home.
Early to bed, competition tomorrow!
Up to breakfast a bit earlier today to sit all together at the table. The pain au chocolat with extra chocolate spread seemed to work wonders with getting the "race face" on. We walked the quay up toward the pool and did our usual spot the fish game. We got our schedule for the day and first up was Luke but not till race 20. Swimming his 25m freestyle in 22.52 he won the silver medal. That was us for the morning and a long wait till race 66 proved a bit of a task! Ryan having a sore leg the day before had done a slow divisioning time and they said that time would have to stand for his race. Competition day and the magic from the magic box must have still been working and Ryan swam an incredible 14.97 seconds quicker than the division day. He won the race by a good 15 metres but got penalised by the honest effort rule and only picked up a participation award.
Next race was Luke in his 50m freestyle, he kept his head down and won the gold medal. Race 72 and Andrew was rearing to go in his 50 metre freestyle, he lead from the start beating all of his 4 opponents winning a gold. Ewan was in the next race, 2 lengths of the Monaco pool against some stiff competition. It was nip and tuck until about 5 metres to go when he just started losing his hold of a medal finishing in a very creditable 4th place.
No rest for Ewan and he had just 6 races to compose himself for his 50m breaststroke. Again another very close race and his determination for a medal paid off winning a bronze medal in 52.96 seconds.
Ryan had rested up for his next challenge of 50 metres backstroke. Despite shaving an incredible 3 seconds off the division time he did the day before he was in the medals and lifted the bronze on the winners podium.
Andrew in race 93 of 102 was our last chance to weigh the plane down with medals and some fantastic turns allowed him to drive right through to the finish line in front of his opponents and climb to the number one position on the podium.
What a great day lads not only winning medals but setting new personal best times as well.
We celebrated by walking up to the massive Carrefour supermarket and buying some chocolate, not what medal winning athletes should be doing but hey being stuck in the red hot pool all day, they deserved it!
Burgers tonight for tea and a change to some smart clothes for the Closing Ceremony. The boys were looking good. We were a little disappointed to find a 20 minute walk was only to a disco, not being dancers, we didn't stay too long and took a walk back to the hotel.
The pin trading had been pretty frantic but Andrew seemed to have the best technique and was getting weighed down with badges on his accreditation lanyard.
The clocks go forward tonight so the promise of a lie in was cancelled straight away with the clocks changing.
We go back to Nice early in the morning so we wont have much time after breakfast to try our luck getting onto the yacht outside the hotel balcony.
The alarm seemed to ring very early despite the extra hour lie in we allowed ourselves. We had a leisurely breakfast and finished off the packing.
Not much time left to do much but sit outside the hotel and wait for the minibus to the airport. We were due to get a look around the big yacht before we went but our pick up time of 10:30 came and went without a sign of the minibus nor any movement on the yacht.
Starting to feel a bit forgotten, we waited another half hour just to see the crew on the yacht coming down the gangplank the same time as the minibus came round the corner!
Some things just seemed like they were never going to happen.
The driver of the minibus hopped out and went straight by us to collect the team from Poland. We said our goodbyes to the Polish team and ended up stranded on the quay, no minibus still 45 minutes after it was supposed to pick us up. We were talking to the 1st Mate and Chief Engineer who invited us aboard while we were waiting and made us very at home (or should I say "at sea!") they took the Manx flag down the flagpole and draped it over the stern and even took some photographs of us ; 0))
You wouldn't believe it but just as we came ashore, the minibus came round the corner. Things had just seemed to turn around. We were honoured by having Marcus the National Director of Monaco S/O who didn't spare the horses and got us to the airport just about 30 mins behind schedule. We had a great opportunity to thank Marcus and the team for a great games and allowed Beryl the chance to catch up.
Not much time to spare we raced through Nice Airport and made the flight with time to spare.
The welcome committee an the helium balloons from Wilma Seed were a sight to behold and the stories of the trip started to roll out.
Smiles on the faces of the happy athletes make the trip worthwhile and makes you wonder what will happen on the next trip. Stay tuned to find out what happens!
You can view photos of the Princess Charlene of Monaco Swimming Meeting 2014 on our Flickr Page