Ireland have topped the final medal table at the LEN U23 European Swimming Championships, held over the weekend at the Sport Ireland National Aquatic Centre.
Mona McSharry in her final year competing as an Under 23, completed a hat-trick of gold medals at the Dublin hosted European U23 Championships after winning the 200m Breaststroke on Sunday evening.
Daniel Wiffen added another silver medal to the gold (1500m) and silver (400m) he won earlier, he also won best male performance.
Sligo’s McSharry opened Sunday night’s finals, like every night over the weekend, with a stellar win in the Women’s 200m Breaststroke.
The Tennessee swimmer set her intentions at the halfway mark by turning almost a full second ahead of the rest of the field, she powered home over the last 5 meters to win gold in a time of 2:25.49.
“Just unbelievable, I mean the crowd has been awesome every night and it was just super loud, I think that really pushed me and I just said that I have to do it for them, it was just amazing,” she said after the win.
“It’s really tough, even having the mental strength to go out and fast and get to that level of burn and really, I was just pushed on by them (the crowd). I think it’s so different to seeing it in person compared to online, it’s great for young kids and athletes in Ireland to be able to watch this and see what they could get to.”
Daniel Wiffen collected his third medal of these championships in the 800m Freestyle, claiming silver in a time of 7:45.59. Wiffen, who is the current European Record Holder in this event started extremely well by staying in touch with his record pace. Ultimately, the final 300m caught up with the Armagh swimmer and he relinquished the lead to Germany’s Sven Schwarz who finished in 7:41.77.
“I’ve definitely put myself in the question for medals next year,” he said.
“We’ve had one of the best meets ever in terms of Irish history and it was amazing to get Gold the first night, and two silvers, It’s great to put Ireland on the map.”
Ellen Walshe closed out her competition by finishing fourth in the final of the Women’s 50m Butterfly with a new personal best time of 26.64, narrowly missing a bronze medal by just 0.38 of a second.
The Templeogue swimmer is coming out of these championships with two golds and a silver, an amazing feat considering she has only returned from the World Aquatics Championships in Japan, a competition where she achieved the qualification standard in the 200m Individual Medley for the Olympic Games in Paris next year.
Swim Ireland National Performance Director Jon Rudd was delighted with Team Ireland’s performance stating “It was a sensational three days of racing for this Irish Team which saw us lead the medal table from day one and secure the top position on the final day.
“It’s a wonderful thing to be able to say that Ireland are the European Under 23 Champions. A hat-trick of golds for Mona McSharry, alongside three-medal hauls for both Ellen Walshe and Daniel Wiffen is outstanding, and to win nine medals and feature in 16 finals indicates a depth to this young team that is incredibly exciting for the years ahead.”
“Those finals also featured some agonising fourth spots too – fingernail biting closeness! We must also remember that some of our leading juniors from Northern Ireland were away at this time winning medals at the Commonwealth Youth Games, and had the calendar been kinder to us, we would have had an even stronger team present here in Dublin.”
“I am very proud of these athletes, their coaches and the staff that have worked tirelessly for them at this Championships – a home Championships in front of an inspiring Irish crowd. Long may it last.”
Sport for Business Perspective:
Performance swimming in Ireland is at a level never before seen in terms of depth and potential. That is exciting heading into an Olympic and Paralympic Year in Paris in 2024.
It is also a huge win to have staged these Championships in Dublin, laying down a marker for how the Sport Ireland National Sports Campus can help us to become a major player in sports hosting over the coming years and decades.