Danielle Hill wins second medal of European Championships in stormy Belgrade

Shane Ryan becomes Ireland’s fastest swimmer with new 50m freestyle record

Danielle Hill of Ireland. Photograph: Andrea Masini/Inpho

As lightning caused havoc in Belgrade, Danielle Hill thundered home to a sensational silver medal on the penultimate night of racing in the 2024 European Aquatic Championships.

Hill showed no signs of being phased in stormy conditions to fire home in 1:00.19 to secure silver in the 100m backstroke. The Larne swimmer backed up her golden performance from Thursday to take her second senior medal of her career. Hill was pipped to the gold in a titanic battle with Poland’s Adela Piskorska by just 0.40 of a second.

Speaking in the mixed zone, Hill said: “It’s special after what has been a crazy night, we were just happy to get in the water and I knew tonight was going to be who wanted it more and put their hand on the wall first. Credit to Adela that she got her hand on the wall; I think it’s a massive personal best for her. Listen, it wasn’t to be tonight, but I can’t be disappointed with the silver medal.’

In the same race, 19-year-old Lottie Cullen finished fifth in Europe with a time of 1:01.03, her first individual final at a senior international event. The National Centre (Ulster) swimmer closed out her magnificent week with one final (100 back) and two semi-finals (200 back, 50 back).

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Earlier, Shane Ryan set a new Irish record in the 50m freestyle to qualify for the event’s semi-final stage at the European Aquatics Championships in Belgrade.

The 30-year-old stopped the clock on 21.82, making him Ireland’s fastest ever swimmer in a long course (50m) pool. The time shaved .12 of a second off Tom Fannon’s 21.94 from the Irish Open and Olympic Trials in May.

Ryan, who is the fastest qualifier from the heats, will return to the blocks for the semi-final at 5:58pm (Irish time) on Saturday.

“I’m shocked, my goal was to go 21.89,” said Ryan. That is my first 50 freestyle in two years, I’m delighted. I had shoulder surgery about two and a half years ago, so I’m delighted with that time. I honestly don’t know what to say, it’s wild.”

In the following heat, Irishman Calum Bain also qualified for the 50m freestyle semi-finals after winning his heat in a time of 22.11 After a slight suit malfunction, Bain was in and out of the pool in 22.11 to finish first in his heat and fifth overall in 22.11 – despite an issue with his suit.

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I feel pretty good, annoyed my suit ripped on the block but I had to get past that and move on,” said Bain. “It was a pretty good morning swim; I think it’s my quickest ever morning swim. I’ve got to go back, chill out and see what I can do tonight.”

Oisin Tebite closed out his week in the same event with 23.58, a time which did not see him progress.

After his sixth-place finish on Friday night in the 50m backstroke final, Conor Ferguson was back in the pool for the 100m backstroke heats. Ferguson secured a semi-final place with a sixth-place finish in a time of 54.74.

There is a busy evening ahead for Ireland as Danielle Hill will look to add to her gold earlier this week when she swims in the 100m backstroke final. Joining Hill will be Lottie Cullen, swimming her first individual senior final.

Nathan Wiffen (1500m freestyle) and Ellie McCartney (200m medley) are back on the blocks for their finals, both in their second outing on to the European final stage at this meet.