Daniel Wiffen, who stunned the National Aquatic Centre on the opening morning of action with an Olympic Consideration Time (OCT) in the 800m Freestyle, broke his own Irish 1500m Freestyle Record to close out the Irish National Team Trials in Dublin, bringing the total Irish Records to twelve over five days of action. The meet also saw four Olympic Consideration Times from Wiffen, Darragh Greene, Mona McSharry and Shane Ryan.
19-year-old Wiffen of Larne SC and Loughborough University took two seconds off his previous best of 15:19.04 to touch in 15:16.90.
Wiffen commented “I wanted to be out comfortable to 800, just under sub-eight minutes, but to be honest I think maybe in the middle of the race I was a bit tired, obviously from the building up of the competition - it’s been a long meet. I’m still happy with the time, it’s a PB and I can’t ask for more than that.”
“I was obviously going for the FINA A time at the start of the week and it was good timing the 800m being the first event, because that’s when you’re most rested. I was delighted to get that and I’m looking forward to Tokyo.”
In the Men’s 200m Breaststroke Darragh Greene took the win in 2:10.40 in an epic race with Eoin Corby. Greene, of National Centre Dublin, who has already been under the Olympic Consideration Time (OCT) of 2:10.35, touched in 2:10.40 as Corby came agonisingly close finishing second in 2:10.50. 19-year-old Corby who swims at National Centre Limerick, needs to make up .15 between now and the next qualification opportunity in June in order to qualify for the Games.
Niamh Coyne won the women’s 200m Breaststroke Final in her second-best time ever 2:27.45. The National Centre Dublin swimmer has come close to Olympic consideration in both the 100m and 200m Breaststroke events this week, swimming best times in both, and will look forward with confidence to another opportunity at achieving the times in June.
Victoria Catterson capped off a fantastic week to go number three all time in the women’s 200m Freestyle in Ireland. The Ards swimmer, who broke the 100m Freestyle record on Thursday, came close to breaking the two-minute mark touching in 2:00.15, and certainly stands out as one to watch in the future.
A delighted Catterson spoke after the race ‘“I was expecting to go quicker than last night, but more like low 2:01, so to turn around and see that it was that close was bittersweet, because 1:59 and maybe an Irish Senior Record just would have been the perfect ending to the week. But that swim has given me the confidence to believe that I am a sub-2:00 freestyler.
“These performances, they’ve been a long time coming. I’d definitely say I’ve really taken advantage of the situation we have been put in. I realise that I am very, very lucky to be in the pool, and obviously there’s not a lot of people in the pool. It’s very specialised training groups, only like 10 people. So, we get a lot of time from our coach, and gym time, and there’s been less distractions, like going out with friends to restaurants and stuff like that.
In the women’s 50m Freestyle Danielle Hill took the honours and was exactly on the Irish Senior Record that she held up to yesterday. Hill clocked 25.29, just one tenth of a second off the new Irish Record she set last night of 25.19. The Larne swimmer has had an impressive week, breaking four Irish records (50m, 100m Freestyle, 100m Backstroke (twice)).
National Centre Dublin’s Brendan Hyland impressed in the 100m Butterfly with a time of 52.87 to take the win over Ards’ Paddy Johnston. 19-year-old Johnston has had a great week, winning the 200m Butterfly Final and swimming a best time in the 100m closing in 53.32.
Speaking after the race Hyland commented “After that 200 Fly final, where the wheels fell off, I was pretty shook. Ben (Higson, head coach) told me to just take it easy and try to gain my confidence back. I know people say it happens and all, but I haven’t got run down like that in about 10 years. I didn’t mind losing it, it was just how much the wheels came off.
“When you’re going fast, you dive in, and every single time you look at the board it’s unbelievable. All of a sudden there’s a snowball effect. Whereas when you have a bad swim, it does take a lot to try to get yourself back on the blocks to do a good job”.
“I’m just pleased to take something out of the week. I’m now hopefully on the relay (4 x 100m Medley) for the European Championships and it is a strong relay. We’ve got three or four weeks to get ready and fine tune.”
In an exciting Men’s 100m Freestyle Final just two tenths of a second separated the top five finishers. Dolphin’s Max McCusker took the win in 49.51 over Bangor’s Jack McMillan in 49.58 and National Centre Dublin’s Shane Ryan 49.64.
In the 400m Individual Medley Templeogue’s Ellen Walshe won the women’s final in 4:48.99 knocking almost two seconds off her previous best of 4:50.78. National Centre Limerick’s Cadan McCarthy knocked over three seconds off his best time to win the men’s final in 4:25.80.
In the final event of the trials Trojan’s Grace Hodgins added a win in the 1500m Freestyle to the 800m Freestyle earlier in the week. In a tight finish Hodgins held off National Centre Limerick’s Ella Carroll (17:47.89) in 17:47.37.
Speaking about the five days of racing Swim Ireland National Performance director Jon Rudd commented "With five excellent days of racing at the Irish National Team Trials under our belt, we can reflect on another significant and positive step forwards for Irish swimming, across a number of areas with much to be pleased with. To have five FINA 'A' Olympic Qualifying times achieved at this stage from four athletes is a good place to be at this time, with two stages of our Olympic nomination process still to come. There have been some agonising near misses across the five days and those fine margins are the very essence of performance sport. Twelve Irish Senior Records have also been broken this week, another indicator that the nation continues to evolve.”
“We set stiff consideration standards for our relays to compete at the forthcoming European Championships in Budapest (in an attempt to qualify for the Olympic Games) and we now have five such relays that can be considered for selection to this event. There were 10 athletes over the course of the week that were close enough to the FINA 'A' time for them to go again in a final qualification attempt in June and we are already working on what this may look like in a challenging COVID environment.”
“I am delighted that the event itself has run so successfully in such highly demanding and difficult times. Athletes and coaches have not had it easy over the last 13 months and the performances this week are testament to their resilience and their dedication. The job is not yet done for Tokyo - but the foundations are set".
Next up for Irish swimmers will be the European Swimming Championships in Budapest, Hungary from May 17th – 23rd.
Irish divers will be in action from May 1st – 5th at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre at the FINA Diving World Cup. The final Olympic Games qualification event will see four Irish divers in action; Oliver Dingley (3M Springboard), Clare Cryan (3M Springboard), Tanya Watson (Platform), Ciara McGing (Platform).