Letterkenny swimmer Anna Hennessy was back at her old primary school this week to celebrate her amazing achievements in the world swimming circuit.
The Glenswilly NS community held a reception honouring star past-pupil Anna after her feats at the Down Syndrome World Swimming Championships in Portugal.
Anna, who is a Team Ireland swimmer, achieved three personal bests in the event in October. She swam in eight categories in total, competing against athletes from 23 countries. She sliced nine seconds off her 100m freestyle, three seconds off the 50m freestyle and three seconds off the 50m backstroke.
Anna was welcomed back to Glenswilly NS on Thursday, where she was applauded by all teachers and students and presented with a special recognition of her accomplishments.
Principal Joseph Gallinagh, Deputy Principal Geraldine Galligan and Chairperson of the Board of Management Eileen Quinn led the tributes to Anna’s inspirational drive for excellence.
Mr Gallinagh said that Glenswilly NS is always proud to celebrate its past pupils who have excelled. Ms Galligan commented on how far Anna had come since she started swimming at the age of six. Despite having some health problems growing up, Ms Galligan said that Anna always worked hard and always brought a smile to people’s faces.
Speaking to the pupils, Anna told them to follow their dreams. She said that everyone should train hard to develop their own talents, whatever they may be.
Anna told pupils how her swimming journey evolved from the local pool to the European Open Championships in Italy in 2019 and then onto the Worlds in 2022.
She thanked all of her coaches at Swilly Seals and the club overall who have given her such great support. She thanked her national Team Ireland coach Niall Molloy and there was a special word of thanks for her parents, Kevin and Mairead. Mairead was also delighted to be back at the school where she previously taught, she said.
“It was a lovely atmosphere and a lovely welcome,” Mairead said.
Anna and her parents were given a tour of the impressive new school facilities, including the new athletics track, new library and new classrooms.
Anna already has her sights set on her next goal as she competes with the Special Olympics in Belfast on 26th November. And as the European Championships come ever closer next September, she will be targeting the qualifying times once more.