Irish Eyes Are Smiling As Corby & Coyne Help Make It 55 Swim Records In Just Two Weeks

Niamh Coyne took down the national 200m breaststroke record in 2:22 in Dublin - Photo Courtesy: Swim Ireland

Irish Swimmers Crack 55 National Swim Records At European and Irish Championships In Past Two Weeks

Not often a country can emerge from International and domestic championships help over two weeks sporting 55 new national records. Irish eyes are smiling at just that on the cusp of Christmas 2019 as Swim Ireland’s national short-course Championships came to a close in Dublin tonight.

National Centre Dublin’s Niamh Coyne had the stand-out swim of the day when she confined Rio 2016 Olympian Fiona Doyle’s 200m breaststroke standard to history with as dominant 2:22.77 victory. Doyle had led the Irish senior record at 2:23.64 back in 2015.


Eoin Corby – Photo Courtesy: Swim Ireland

In the men’s equivalent, National Centre Limerick swimmers claimed a podium sweep, Eoin Corby leading the charge in his fourth Irish junior record in four days of racing in Dublin this week.

Corby, who established three new standards at the European Short-Course Championships run Glasgow last week, took down his week-old 2:09.02 for gold in 2:08.04, teammates Liam Doyle and Uiseann Cooke on 2:10.52 and 2:14.71 respectively.

The moment Jon Rudd arrived in Ireland back in February 2017 as new Performance Director, he put in place a plan to build staff strength, mentoring the mentors, and to build relay and team strength in the Irish ranks.

Rudd, one of the principle architects of the Plymouth Leander and College scheme in England and mentor to Olympic champion Ruta Meilutyte and World Champion Ben Proud, took the Irish job on the basis that Ireland had a plan and knew where it wanted to go.

Three months before he started work in Ireland, Rudd set priorities for his first 100 days in the new post. He told this author: “I will now build a world class team around me that can help Ireland find that elusive podium finish at World and Olympic level.” He added:

“It certainly is my impression that junior talent fizzles out before it fulfils its potential. Ireland is certainly capable of producing kids who challenge for the podium at European juniors, world juniors and Olympic Youths. We have to change the aspirations of the people on deck: it is almost like that’s the tip of their pyramid (junior success), the level above not in their minds. The transition from junior to senior ranks is a questionable part of the program – it needs addressing.”

The runes and results starting to unfold suggest that Rudd, his team at Swim Ireland, the coaches and their charges are on a path to ensure what the new director wanted Eoin his arrival, namely to “ensure the right resources and the right people about them to make sure they have the right outlook and see them past those 15 and 16 years of age.”

Holistic Approach – Athlete Needs First


Jon Rudd – Photo Courtesy: Jon Rudd

In Plymouth, one of Rudd’s success stories with others who worked on a braun-meets-brain blueprint was the integration of sport and edication, Plymouth Leander working in tandem – and with understanding – with Plymouth College and then the level beyond, Plymouth University and the University of St Mark & St John.

Asked to pencil in a pathway to progress in Ireland, Rudd said in 2016:

“We certainly need to look at how we create something a lot more inclusive and take an holistic look at the lives of athletes. You can slap a 50m pool there but unless you have an understanding of where the kids go to school, of the transport they use, a picture of their daily lives, of what kind of pastoral care and welfare is in place, then all the rest is a red herring. We have to unpick those things. I don’t know Ireland well enough to know where the issues lie. It is something I will certainly be investigating in my first 100 days on the job.”

Once the trees that are serving as barriers on the pathway to excellence have been marked, the felling process requires expert handling. Rudd identifies one of the biggest challenges of leadership:

“We have to establish the notion that when you’re a leader you’re not an isolated guy making autonomous decisions. My priority will be to build a quality team around me. There’s a lot of talk of multi-displinary teams, that’s to say a team of people with a bunch of skills and specialist roles. There’s a level above that: where those people, those roles not only mesh together but where everyone understands each others’ role. There is a fluidity in the process.”

Rudd also insisted that for any of that to work, the swimmers and coaches would have to buy into the plan: “There is no point in appointing and expert in any field if you’re not going to listen to them. The buck stops with me and I will be the one to make the critical and difficult decisions but I will do that after consulting with the seniuor leadership team. That way, we’re more likely to get it right. I’ve seen it going wrong where people put good teams around them but the decisions taken don’t reflect the expertise of that team but the view of one person.”

Relays As A Way Of Building Pride, Confidence, Belief and Belonging

Relays were part of that vision from go. It seems to be making a big impact. In the Ireland Relay Exhibition swims set up to place focus on relays in pursuit of a goal of getting an Irish swimming quartet into Olympic waters for the first time since 1972, all four national teams went under the previous Irish standards.

The senior women dipped under the 4-minute mark in the 4x100m medley, combining for 3:59.95 to wipe more than 15 seconds off the 1992 record of 4:15.90. In the same race, the national juniors blitzed the previous best of 4:25.58 with a 4:12.38.

In the men ‘s medley relay, the seniors broke the 2018 record of 3:27.23 with a 3:26.60, while the juniors crushed the previous standard of 3:56.15 in 3:37.10.

In club 4x50m medley relays morning action today,  three new Irish Records were set with the women from Aer Lingus breaking Ards’ 2017 record of 1:55.01 in 1:53.99. Bangor’s men broke their own record of 1:38.75 in 1:38.34 while silver medallists Limerick, also broke their own junior record (1:45.11) in 1:43.80.


Mona McSharry & Family – Photo Courtesy: RTE

Irish swimmers are not only having an impact in the water: Mona McSharry, who crushed the Irish 100m breaststroke standard in 1:04.35 and took bronze in the 50m at the European Championships last week, has a been declared a member of Ireland’s Fittest family with her tribe in a competition run by the broadcaster RTE.


Danielle Hill – Photo Courtesy: Swim Ireland

In other action, Danielle Hill collected her fifth national title of the week with a 26.90 in the  50m backstroke. That took the tally of Irish records set by the Larne swimmer to seven in two weeks, her 100m free mark of 53.81 leaving her a league apart in domestic waters. Ards’ Paddy Johnston took the men’s backstroke dash in 24.77.

There was more gold in distance free events for Amelia Kane and Daniel Wiffen, who added the 1500m and 800m free tiles respectively.

Kane clocked 16:59.29 for a sweep of 400, 800 and 1500m crowns, Wiffen on a solid 15:12.59 to conclude a fine week in Dublin. Here’s Wiffen after his 800m Irish-record win:

In the last solo finals of the championships, the 200m freestyle titles went to Kilkenny’s Naomi Trait and National Centre Dublin’s Robbie Powell, on 2:00.25 and 1:45.39 respectively.

Rudd summed up by saying:

“The four days in Dublin bring to an end a very exciting and productive fortnight for Irish swimming. We thought that we had achieved something special when we returned from the European Championships last week with 2 medals and 20 new Irish records but to break another 35 this week to make it 55 in total is quite exceptional, particularly when we are re-breaking several of those records that are only a few days old. There has been a buzz in and around the NAC this week; more clubs and coaches are progressing their athletes than we would have seen before and there is a rising depth amongst our ranks in most events. There has been some great work done by Irish swimming this month and we look forward to Olympic year and how this confidence because of our progress can transfer from January onwards”.

Swim Ireland will get Olympic year underway with athletes racing in Geneva and Antwerp in January before a final preparation event at the McCullagh International meet in Bangor in February, an event thatwill match the Tokyo 2020 format (evening heats, morning finals).

The Olympic & Paralympic Trials take place in Dublin from 1st – 5th April. Another Rudd pledge to break with the past will be delivered: the trials will be the sole event from which athletes can qualify to the Olympic team in individual events.

The LEN European Championships in Budapest in May provides Ireland with a final competition from which they can qualify Olympic relays before the Olympic Games themselves take place in Tokyo in July.

Day 4 Podiums:

  • Women 1500m Freestyle: 1st Amelia Kane Ards 16:59.29 2nd Martine Hallberg SNDN 17:08.58* / Grace Hodgins Trojan 17:20.10 3rd Jessica Gannon National Centre Limerick 17:21.70
  • Men 1500m Freestyle: 1st Daniel Wiffen Lisburn 15:12.59 2nd Liam Custer Sundays Well 15:26.10 3rd Nathan Wiffen Lisburn 16:04.40
  • Women 200m Breaststroke: 1st Niamh Coyne National Centre Dublin 2:22.77 ISR 2nd Aisling Haughey Aer Lingus 2:25.69 3rd Ellen Walshe Templeogue 2:27.76
  • Men 200m Breaststroke: 1st Eoin Corby National Centre Limerick 2:08.04 IJR 2nd Liam Doyle National Centre Limerick 2:10.52 3rd Uiseann Cooke National Centre Limerick 2:14.71
  • Women 50m Backstroke: 1st Danielle Hill Larne 26.90 2nd Ellen Walshe Templeogue 28.41 3rd Jenna MacDougald Otter 28.64
  • Men 50m Backstroke: 1st Paddy Johnston Ards 24.77 2nd Rory McEvoy National centre Dublin 24.94 3rd Sean McNicholl Templeogue 26.17 / Tianyu Zhou Shanghai 25.88*
  • Women 200m Freestyle: 1st Naomi Trait Kilkenny 2:00.25 2nd Bethy Firth Ards 2:01.85* / Julia Knox Banbridge 2:02.66 3rd Rachel Bethel Bangor 2:02.80
  • Men 200m Freestyle: 1st Robbie Powell National Centre Dublin 1:45.39 2nd Michael Hewitt Ards 1:48.69 3rd Finn McGeever National Centre Limerick & Dean Power National Centre Dublin 1:49.05

Club Relays

Women 200m Medley Relay: 1st Aer Lingus 1:53.99 ISR 2nd Otter 1:56.66 3rd Ards 1:56.75

Men 200m Medley Relay: 1st Bangor 1:38.34 ISR 2nd Limerick 1:43.80 IJR 3rd Ards 1:45.01

*Denotes a foreign swimmer who receives a commemorative medal

National Team Exhibition Relays:

Women 4x100m Medley Relay:

  • Senior: Danielle Hill, Niamh Coyne, Ellen Walshe, Erin Riordan 3:59.95 ISR
  • Junior: Amelia Kane, Molly Mayne, Andrea Cox, Naomi Trait 4:12.38 IJR

Men 4x100m Medley Relay:

  • Senior: Shane Ryan, Darragh Greene, Brendan Hyland, Jordan Sloan 3:26.60 ISR
  • Junior: Sean Scannell, Eoin Corby, Paddy Johnston, Sean McNicholl 3:37.10 IJR
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