A team of fourteen Irish swimmers are relishing the opportunity to compete at a home LEN European U23 Swimming Championships at the Sport Ireland National Aquatic Centre, with the first heats having taken place this morning and the action continuing through the weekend.
The last time Swim Ireland hosted a European competition was the Allianz European Para Swimming Championships in 2018, and before that it was the European Short Course Swimming Championships in 2003, the same year the Sport Ireland National Aquatic Centre opened.
Many of the swimmers on the team were not even born on that occasion when Sydney 2000 and Beijing 2008 Olympian Andrew Bree won a silver medal in the 200m Breaststroke.
Bree will be in attendance this weekend, in the role of poolside commentator.
Heading up Team Ireland this weekend are recent Paris 2024 qualifiers Daniel Wiffen, Mona McSharry, and Ellen Walshe.
Wiffen and McSharry were both World Championships finalists just two weeks ago, with Wiffen setting a new European Record in the 800m Freestyle. All three will compete in their signature events across the three days of competition.
The team also includes World Championships teamers, 200m Freestyle Irish Record holder Victoria Catterson and 16-year-old John Shortt, who recently set a new Irish standard in the 200m Backstroke.
The opening day of racing sees thirteen individual swims from Irish swimmers including McSharry (50m Breaststroke), Walshe (100m Butterfly, 200m Individual Medley) and Wiffen (1500m Freestyle) as well as Shortt in the 200m Backstroke and Catterson in the 200m Freestyle.
Jack Cassin and Evan Bailey will compete in the 100m Butterfly; Maria Godden swims the 50m Backstroke and Eoin Corby and Liam O’Connor the 50m Breaststroke.
Grace Hodgins competes in the 800m Freestyle, while an Ireland team are entered in the Mixed 400m Medley Relay.
“The Irish team have assembled in Dublin and are keen and excited to perform in front of a home crowd,” said National Performance Director Jon Rudd.
With five athletes returning from a highly successful World Championships to join this team, there is a blend of experience and exciting potential within our ranks and when you look at the pre-meet rankings, you’d really hope that Irish athletes can wow friends, family, and the swimming community over the three days of racing at the NAC. It’s been 20 years since we last had international swimming of this calibre in Ireland – and so I’d urge supporters to scoop up those last few available tickets and lend us your voices this weekend.”
It is a great event as well for Sport for Business members beyond those obviously directly involved with Branding Sport having been responsible for the look of the Championships and Future Ticketing providing the engine to get people into the event.