Irish swimmers provide two standout performances on last day of the Olympic Trials

Over the five days of action, there were two more Paris Olympic qualifiers, and four qualification times

Danielle Hill and Ellen Walshe provided two more standout performances at the conclusion of the Olympic Trials at the National Aquatic Centre, further underlining the unprecedented depth and excellence in Irish swimming.

Over the five days of action, there were two more Paris Olympic qualifiers, and four qualification times, Hill and Tom Fannon joining Daniel Wiffen, Walshe and Mona McSharry as individual qualifiers, along with a women’s and a men’s 4x100m medley relay with selection to be confirmed in the coming weeks.

In addition, 22 swimmers achieved consideration times for the European Championships in Serbia next month, while seven Irish senior and eight Irish junior records were set.

In the women’s 50 metre backstroke, Hill came close to breaking her own record. Hill, who had qualified for the Paris Games in the 50 metre freestyle and 100 metre backstroke, was just one-hundredth of a second off the 27.64 she swam at the Ulster Championships three weeks ago, touching in 27.65 to win the national title.


The 22-year-old Walshe, who had secured an Olympic qualifying time in the morning heats of the 400 metre individual medley in 4:38.05, cruised to victory in this evening’s final in 4.43.62. Walshe’s younger sister Eva was also competing in the final, finishing sixth in 5:21.57.

Nathan Wiffen fell short of joining his twin brother Daniel in Paris, but the 22-year-old did win the 1,500 metre freestyle after swimming a brilliant 14-second lifetime best to blow away the rest of the field. Wiffen had entered the competition with a personal best time of 15:21.11, lowered that to 15:06.48 to win the national title in a new Championship Record, well over a minute ahead of second, Denis O’Brien of Limerick silver in 16:22.96, and not far off the 15:00.99 that was required for Paris.

Shane Ryan also came close again to the Olympic time of 48.34 in the 100 metre freestyle. Swimming in front of a packed arena Ryan swam 48.66. just outside the Irish Record of 48.49 he swam on Saturday. Ryan claimed gold ahead of Evan Bailey (49.58), who set a new Irish junior record of 49.40 in the event on Saturday, and 100 metre butterfly champion Max McCusker (49.98).

John Shortt claimed his second national title of the week, adding 50 metre backstroke gold to the 200 metre gold he won on Saturday night. The smallest of margins separated Victoria Catterson and Grace Davison in a great battle in the 200 metre freestyle final. Catterson, of National Centre Dublin, got the touch in 2:00.62, just one-hundredth of a second ahead of Ards’s Davison in 2:00.63. National Centre Limerick’s Maria Godden was third in 2:04.95.

Earlier in the evening Davison had won gold and the national title in the 50 metre freestyle. The 16-year-old won in 26.02 ahead of UCD’s Jena Macdougald and Sundays Wells’ Eva Harrington (26.78).

The final event of the championships, the 50m butterfly, saw Dylan Registe claim the men’s title in 24.61 ahead of Ennis’s Dylan O’Brien (25.17) and Isaac Fitzmaurice (25.23) while in the women’s final Ards’s Emma Reid and UCD’s Jena Macdougald shared gold with both touching in 27.92. National Centre Limerick’s Lucy O’Brien was third in 28.48.

Olympic Qualification Time Achieved: Daniel Wiffen (400 metre, 800 metre, 1500 metre freestyle), Ellen Walshe (200 metre, 400 metre IM), Mona McSharry (100 metre breaststroke), Danielle Hill (50 metre freestyle, 100 metre backstroke), Tom Fannon (50 metre freestyle)

Women 4x100 metre Medley Relay, Men 4x100 metre Medley Relay (Two Olympic Qualification Times (OQT) are required from the team in order to confirm the Olympic place when invited)

Ian O'Riordan

Ian O'Riordan

Ian O'Riordan is an Irish Times sports journalist writing on athletics