Two more Irish swimmers qualify for Tokyo Olympics

Daniel Wiffen and Mona McSharry both go under the Olympic consideration times

 Mona McSharry: “Sometimes you can forget to live in it for a minute, so I am definitely going to work on that today, because I have been striving for this for so long.” Photograph: Inpho

Mona McSharry: “Sometimes you can forget to live in it for a minute, so I am definitely going to work on that today, because I have been striving for this for so long.” Photograph: Inpho

 

It was a morning to remember for Daniel Wiffen and Mona McSharry as the two Irish swimmers qualified for the Tokyo Olympics at the Swim Ireland Irish national team trials.

Along with Darragh Greene and Shane Ryan, all four swam under the Olympic consideration times (OCT) in their respective events with Irish senior records also coming from Wiffen, McSharry and Greene. They will now go forward for ratification from the Olympic Federation of Ireland.

Wiffen, in the first race of the morning, took an incredible 21 seconds off his best time in the 800m freestyle to go under the Fina time by two seconds. The 19-year-old, who trains in Loughborough University and swims for Larne Swimming Club, also knocked 13 seconds off the Irish senior record of 8:05.30 set by Andrew Meegan in 2013.

“It’s probably the most nervous competition I’ve ever been to. I only managed to eat cereal for breakfast. I was thinking about it all day. I knew I had to be in and around 3:55 out on the 400m free, so I wanted to be quite comfortable out. I kind of knew I went out the right time and towards the end I had a cheeky look at the clock on the last 50 to see where I was. I just got my head down then to get that time.

“It’s unbelievable - 19 and going to the Olympics. I am over the moon and I just have to thank my parents, my coaches and all of my friends for helping me get here.”

Irish record holder in the 100m breaststroke Mona McSharry clocked 1:06.97, to go under the Fina OCT of 1:07.07 in the event. The 21-year-old was just .03 of a second off the qualification time coming into the meet with a best time of 1:07.10, and with this morning’s swim she’s the first Irish swimmer under 67 seconds.

Sinking in

McSharry, of Marlins Swimming Club and Tennessee University, says she is enjoying the moment: “it’s still sinking in, but I am excited to go and jump around my apartment for a little while. Just, talk to my family and be happy about it - soak it all in and make sure that I am actually enjoying the moment. Sometimes you can forget to live in it for a minute, so I am definitely going to work on that today, because I have been striving for this for so long.

“I was trying not to think about it this morning, which I’ve been doing the last three weeks. Just trying not to build it up so much in my head - it’s just another 100m breaststroke and I’m just going to swim it. I had a set plan this morning and I have a very organised way that I do stuff to make sure I don’t have time to sit and worry about my race.

“The first 50 felt really good. I could see Niamh (Coyne) beside me, so that was definitely pushing me on. When I turned, I could still see her there and I knew I would have to pick it up and really go for it. It definitely burned in the last 10m. At that point you just have to push through. I did have that wonder, does this burn because I’m not going fast enough, or is it because I’m pushing to new levels.

“It’s very hard to distinguish sometimes. You just have to push to the wall and see what the time is. I knew I was going to do it, and I knew I could do it, but it was still really nice to turn around and be surprised to see it on the board.”

Darragh Greene of National Centre Dublin, already under consideration time for Tokyo (59.93) in the 100m breaststroke after a 59.82 at the World Championships in 2019, dominated the race from start to finish, blasting a new Irish senior record of 59.76 in this morning’s heats to consolidate his position as Ireland’s top male breaststroker.

In the 100m backstroke Shane Ryan equalled the Fina OCT of 53.85. Ryan, who is also already under consideration for the Tokyo Games after a swim of 53.73 at the Irish Open in 2019 was the clear winner ahead of Larne’s Conor Ferguson in 54.67.

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