Mona McSharry continued the positive progress of Irish swimmers at the European Aquatics Championships in Budapest, Hungary, making the final of the 100m breaststroke in the second fastest time of her life.
The 20-year-old from Sligo clocked 1:06.97 in the morning heats, before improving to 1:06.42 in her semi-final, qualifying for Wednesday evening’s final as sixth fastest overall: her time was just shy of Irish senior record of 1:06.29 set at Irish National Team Trials in April, where she first achieved the Olympic Consideration Time for Tokyo 2021.
“If you had told me I would swim 1:06 this year, I’d have been over the moon, and now I’ve just done two 1:06 swims in a few hours and, I don’t want to say easily, but comfortable enough that I know I could do it again. It just gives me so much confidence in the build-up to the Olympics.”
Earlier, Conor Ferguson finishing seventh in the 50m backstroke final, where 20-year-old Kliment Koleshinikov from Russia broke the world record he set in Monday's semi-final, clocking 23.80, a fair chunk off the 23.93 seconds he swam 24 hours earlier.
Ferguson clocked 24.92, the 21-year-old coming up through the ranks alongside the Russian: “Me and Kliment have been competing against each other since we were 15, 16 years old,” Ferguson said. “It’s just rapid to be here, to see him do that. And it sets the bar to show you what’s possible.
“I was probably a bit more tense than yesterday. This championships has a relay focus for Ireland, and my training has been based on the 100m and 200m, so this was a bit of a bonus for me.”
Ireland claimed their own record in the non-Olympic Mixed 4x200m Freestyle Relay as Brendan Hyland, Max McCusker, Naomi Trait, and Victoria Catterson clocked 7:50.41, to better the Irish senior record they set in the heats, finishing eighth in the final, won by Great Britain in 7:26.67, a championship record.
Wednesday morning will see Ireland's much-anticipated Men's 4x200m Freestyle Relay team in action with Finn McGeever, Jack McMillan, Gerry Quinn and Jordan Sloan on the start sheet, with Tokyo qualification on the back of their minds.
Olympic relay qualification saw the 12 best nations in event at the 2019 World Championships, staged in Gwangju, South Korea, gain automatic qualification for Tokyo: with a total of 16 Olympic slots available per relay, Ireland are currently sitting in two top-16 positions leading into this competition - the Irish men’s 4x100m Medley (14th at the 2019 World Championships), and men’s 4x200m Freestyle (16th), looking to improve their time here.