By Emily Sampl
BOULDER, Colorado, April 23. THE Irish Long Course National Championships get underway tomorrow at the National Aquatic Centre in Dublin, where swimmers will have a chance to solidify their spots for several international meets this summer, including the European Championships, European Junior Championships and Commonwealth Games.
Barry Murphy, a 2012 Olympian for Ireland and former University of Tennessee standout, will highlight the men's field. Barry has already qualified for Ireland's European Championship team, and enters the meet as the top seed in the men's 50 breast (27.56), 100 breast (1:01.56) and 50 fly (23.65); he'll also swim the 50 free (23.37). Murphy is currently ranked 31st internationally in the 50 breast with a 28.01, his only world ranking in the top 50.
Fiona Doyle, the 2013 Irish Swimmer of the Year, will compete in a full schedule at the meet that includes six events, including her best -- the 50, 100 and 200 breast. Doyle enters the meet with the 12th-best 50 breast of 2014 (31.32), 29th-best 100 breast (1:08.72) and 41st-best 200 breast (2:29.86). She posted all three times at the Canadian Long Course Nationals a few weeks ago, and will be looking to move up in the world rankings with some faster times this weekend. Doyle will also race the 50 free (26.04), 100 free (57.19) and 100 fly (1:02.83).
Brendan Hyland should be a factor in both butterfly events with the top seed-time in the 200 fly (1:59.14) and second-best time in the 100 fly (54.50). He'll have to run down Deividas Margevicius for a win in the shorter distance, as Margevicius comes in with a 54.12. Hyland has already qualified for Ireland's European Championship team, one of seven swimmers to do so along with Murphy, Doyle, Sycerika McMahon, Nicholas Quinn, Dan Sweeney and Chris Bryan.
Lithuania will send several swimmers to the meet who should make a big impact. Povilas Strazdas (200 free, 1:50.01; 200 IM, 2:03.36), Danas Rapsys (100 back, 55.03; 100 free, 50.55; 200 back, 1:57.60; 50 back, 25.96) and Margevicius (100 fly, 54.12) are each seeded first in one or more events; Rapsys could walk away with four individual titles this weekend.
Danielle Lowe, 19, will also have a shot at multiple wins, as she's seeded first in the women's 100 back (1:03.65), 200 back (2:13.43), 200 IM (2:13.03) and 200 breast (2:28.24). Bethany Carson, meanwhile, is seeded first in three events -- the 200 free (2:02.44), 100 free (57.09) and 100 fly (1:00.53) -- and second in the 200 IM (2:17.80). It's shaping up to be an exciting meet featuring some of Ireland's top young swimmers.