They waited 49 years and now two come along at the same time, Swim Ireland confirming that two men’s relay teams have been invited to compete at the Tokyo Olympics, which are set to get under later next month.
It’s the first time since the 1972 Olympics in Munich that Irish swimming have qualified a relay team, and a first for the men, a Tokyo-bound quartet in the 4x200m freestyle and 4x100m medley. Back in Munich, the women’s quartet competed in both the 4x100m freestyle and medley.
With the top 12 teams from the 2019 World Championships in South Korea gaining automatic selection, only four remaining global places were available based on an aggregate of best times. The Irish men snatched the last remaining places in both events thanks in the main to their record-breaking performances at the European Championships in Budapest last month.
On that occasion the men's 4x100 medley squad consisted of Shane Ryan, Darragh Greene, Brendan Hyland and Jack McMillan, those four likely to compete in Tokyo also.
Likewise with McMillan, Jordan Sloan, Fionn McGeever and Gerry Quinn, the Irish quartet who broke the 4x200 freestyle relay record last month. Ryan, Greene, Mona McSharry and Daniel Wiffen had already qualified for individual events.
Swim Ireland performance director John Rudd said: "For the first time in 49 years, this has happened, and not one relay, but two. I am so proud of the Swim Ireland vision and support given to us to enable this. And equally so to the athletes and coaches who got this over the line. We will do the nation proud. We always do."
There is one more last opportunity the few Irish swimmers still close to the Olympic qualifying time to add their name to the qualified list when Swim Ireland host their final qualifying meet at the National Aquatic Centre in Dublin from June 24 to 26th.