A team of eight Irish swimmers, led by team manager Hayley Burke and national coach Jim Laverty, flew out to Glasgow at the end of March to compete in their first major International meet this year. The event was one of the largest open competitions for Para Swimming and attracts many international teams.
2014 European Double Bronze medallist James Scully was joined by London Paralympic medallist Darragh McDonald, 2013 World Bronze medallists Ellen Keane and Laurence McGivern and fellow London Paralympian Jonathan McGrath.These five senior athletes were joined by emerging talents Ailbhe Kelly, Nicole Turner and Patrick Flanagan.
The four day meet was taking place take place in Tollcross; the same venue as the 2015 IPC World Championships which are set to run from 13th – 19th July, so it gave the swimmers who have qualified for those Worlds, and those still hoping to, a chance to compete there before the main event.
Some of the highlight performances over the course of the weekend for the Irish included two personal best swims from Ailbhe Kelly in the 50m Freestyle and 100m backstroke. Jonathan McGrath, who trains out of Limerick High Performance Centre in UL swam his second fastest time ever in his main event; the 400m freestyle.
The stand out performances of the weekend came from the youngest member of the team, in what was essentially her first major international for Ireland; thirteen year old Nicole Turner. The Laois Marlins swimmer recorded personal bests (PBs) in five out of her six swims over the weekend, and secured a qualifying standard for the World Championships in the 50m Butterfly and went on to win a youth silver medal in the final of the same event.
The next competition on the horizon for these swimmers is the Long Course National Championships in the National Aquatic Centre at the beginning of May. After that the team selected for the IPC World Championships will travel to their warm weather training camp in Fuerteventura for ten days in June.
Irish Team, British International Swim Meet
Ellen Keane (National Aquatic Centre-NAC) S9 100m Butterfly,100m, 400m Freestyle, SM9 200m Individual Medley, SB8 100m Breaststroke
James Scully (National Aquatic Centre-NAC) S5 50m, 100m & 200m Freestyle
Jonathan McGrath (UL High Performance Centre) S8 400mFreestyle, 100m Backstroke
Laurence McGivern (Invictus) S9 100m Backstroke
Darragh McDonald (UCD) S6 50m, 100m & 400m Freestyle
Ailbhe Kelly (National Aquatic Centre-NAC) S8 100m Backstroke, 50m, 100m, 400m Freestyle
Nicole Turner (Laois Marlins) SB5 100m Breaststroke, SM6 200m Individual Medley, S6 50m Butterfly, S6 400m Freestyle
Patrick Flanagan (Longford) S8 400m Freestyle, S8 100m Backstroke, S8 50m Freestyle, SB7 100m Breaststroke
Hayley Burke, Team Manager
Jim Laverty, National Head Coach
Mary Seery, Support Staff
Jon Faulkner, Physiotherapist
Ciara Sinnott O’Connor, Physiologist
Stephen McIvor, Sports Psychologist
James Divilly, Performance Analysist