Swim Ireland Announce National Squads for 2020-2021 Season

Swim Ireland today announce 38 swimmers who will form three cohorts of National Squads for the 2020-2021 season. The new season will see a change to the structure of Swim Ireland's National Squad programme as the Performance team plan for the commencement of the 2024 Paris Olympic Games cycle whilst keeping a firm eye on the successful completion of the 2020 (+1) Tokyo Olympic cycle.

The Performance team will operate through a three-tiered system encompassing a Performance (PE) cohort for Olympic Games 2021 identified athletes, a Performance Transition (PT) cohort focussed on both the 2021 and 2024 Olympic Games and a Performance Pathway (PP) group with a 2024 and 2028 Olympic Games focus. The tiering of the Programme into three distinct levels will be continued each season across the 2020-2024 cycle into the Paris Olympic Games, with the Programme aiming to support athletes as they endeavour to reach their full potential at senior international level.

The Performance element of the National Squad is spearheaded by 2019 LEN European medallist Shane Ryan, with Ireland’s two strongest performers at the 2019 FINA World Championships in Brendan Hyland and Darragh Greene also amongst those selected. This group has a strong relay focus as Ireland look to cement one or more relay berths for 2021, with the nation not having achieved the qualification of an Olympic relay since 1972. National Performance Director Jon Rudd and National Senior Team Head Coach Ben Higson will have primary oversight of this group of athletes as Ireland prepare for their Olympic Trials in Dublin from 20th – 24th April next year. 

Performance Cohort
NameSurnameHome ProgrammeCoach
CalumBainUniversity of Stirling (UK)Bradley Hay
NiamhCoyneNational Centre (Dublin)Ben Higson/Steve Beckerleg
ConorFergusonLarne SCPeter Hill
Darragh GreeneNational Centre (Dublin)Ben Higson/Steve Beckerleg
DanielleHillLarne SCPeter Hill
BrendanHylandNational Centre (Dublin)Ben Higson/Steve Beckerleg
JackMcMillanBangor SCPaul Dennis
CillianMellyNational Centre (Dublin)Ben Higson/Steve Beckerleg
NicholasQuinnUniversity of Edinburgh (UK)Chris Jones
ShaneRyanNational Centre (Dublin)Ben Higson/Steve Beckerleg
JordanSloanBangor SCPaul Dennis
EllenWalsheTempleogue SC (Dublin)Brian Sweeney

The newly identified Performance Transition cohort features 2019 LEN European Junior and 2019 FINA World Junior finalist Eoin Corby alongside Ireland's strongest performers at junior level over recent years. Ben Higson will also have primary oversight of this group of athletes, some of whom will have the 2021 Olympic Games in mind with others placing their focus on the forthcoming 2021 FISU World University Games. 

Performance Transition Cohort
NameSurnameHome ProgrammeCoach
VictoriaCattersonArds SC (Newtonards)Davy Johnston
UiseannCookeUniversity of Edinburgh (UK)Chris Jones
EoinCorbyNational Centre (Limerick)John Szaranek/Mikey McCarthy
AndrewFeenanNational Centre (Limerick)John Szaranek/Mikey McCarthy
MariaGoddenKilkenny SCJohn Duffy
MichaelHewittArds SC (Newtonards)Davy Johnston
PaddyJohnstonArds SC (Newtonards)Davy Johnston
SophieMaguireUniversity of Birmingham (UK)Gary Humpage
CadanMcCarthyNational Centre (Limerick)John Szaranek/Mikey McCarthy
RoryMcEvoyNational Centre (Dublin)Ben Higson/Steve Beckerleg
FinnMcGeeverNational Centre (Limerick)John Szaranek/Mikey McCarthy
GerryQuinnNational Centre (Dublin)Ben Higson/Steve Beckerleg
DanielWiffenLoughborough University (UK)Andi Manley

The Performance Pathway cohort of athletes comprises Ireland's brightest current prospects, including 2019 LEN European Junior and 2019 FINA World Junior athlete Amelia Kane, 2019 LEN European Junior athlete Sean Scannell and 2019 European Youth Olympic Festival athlete Ellie McKibbin. National Performance Pathway Manager Andrew Reid will have primary oversight of this group of athletes, with the 2021 LEN European Junior Championships and FINA World Junior Championships the premier focus for this group.

Performance Pathway Cohort
NameSurnameHome ProgrammeCoach
EthanHansenMount Kelly (UK)Emma Collings-Barnes
Grace HodginsTrojan SC (Dublin)Jonathan Preston
AmeliaKaneArds SC (Newtonards)Davy Johnston
JuliaKnoxBanbridge SCDavy Wilson
MollieMcAlorumLeander SC (Belfast)Kathryn Wylie
EllieMcCartneyEnniskillen Lakelanders SCAaron Rickhuss
EllieMcKibbinArds SC (Newtonards)Davy Johnston
HannahO'SheaDolphin SC (Cork)Mick McCormack
CoraRooneyEnniskillen Lakelanders SCAaron Rickhuss
AislingRowlandsMillfield School (UK)Euan Dale
SeanScannellNational Centre (Dublin)Ben Higson/Steve Beckerleg
NaomiTraitKilkenny SCJohn Duffy
BenWoodsideLarne SCPeter Hill

Athletes based outside of Europe would not normally be selected for Ireland’s National Squad on logistical grounds, with Mona McSharry (University of Tennessee, USA), Sean McNicholl (George Tech, USA) and Molly Mayne (Hamilton Aquatics, UAE) meeting the required qualification criteria to gain National Squad status in this regard.

The COVID-19 virus disrupted the majority of the 2019-2020 long course season, with both domestic and international competitions unable to take place in the March 2020 – August 2020 period. As such, the tried and tested method of considering performances at the Irish Open Championships and an identified summer benchmark meet was not possible in 2020. The Performance team also felt that the utilisation of short course performances from the September 2019 – December 2019 period of the season was not appropriate in identifying the athletes for this programme. As such, a revised Selection Criteria was adopted for these unprecedented circumstances and will only be utilised for this one particular season.

National Performance Director Jon Rudd was to say of the selection, “The Swim Ireland National Squad is a programme designed to assist and add value to each athlete's home programme environment. The programme will provide these athletes and their home programme coaches access to opportunities and services which may otherwise be limited or unavailable to them. However, we strongly believe that this particular programme is so much more than camps, meets and services. It is about who we are, our identity as we approach an Olympic Games in 2021 and is a component which is key to further develop the performance culture within Irish swimming. We have strong beliefs and values and we have high standards and expectations; as such, our National Squad allows us ensure that when we walk into the arena together, we are galvanised, aligned and we possess a collective understanding of what is expected and required of us and from us. This is a very exciting group of athletes and we look forward to working with and for them over the months to come”

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© 2020 Olympic Federation of Ireland.
Registered in Dublin No. 82262.
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