Shauna O’Brien Breaks 100 Fly Irish Record On Day 3 Of Irish Open

Shauna O'Brien
Photo Courtesy: Paul Mohan/SPORTSFILE

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The Irish were stellar in the pool tonight at the Irish Open, with two national records and a junior record set at the National Aquatic Centre. A day after winning all the events, the junior National Club Swimming Association squad from the United States won eight of the 10 events on tonight’s program.

One of the Irish national records set tonight came in the second semifinal of the women’s 100 butterfly. Shauna O’Brien, representing UCD (University College Dublin), blazed through the swim to post a 1:00.21. That broke Bethany Carson’s record of 1:00.53 that was set in 2012 and qualified O’Brien to represent Ireland at the World University Games. In tomorrow’s final, O’Brien will look to be the first Irish woman under 1:00 in the 100 fly, and approach the world championships automatic qualifying time of 59.18. Caroline McTaggart, the winner of the 50 fly, qualified second for the 100 fly final with a 1:01.5, while American teammate Lauren Case was third with a 1:01.11.

UCD continued its great night with a national record in the men’s 400 medley relay. The team fought hard against four squads from the NCSA junior squad, even leading after breaststroke thanks to a 1:01.60 from Alex Murphy. David Prendergast (58.32), Jack Keogh (58.86) and Seamus Stacey (51.50) joined Murphy to post a 3:50.28, breaking the national club record of 3:52.04 swum by Ards in 2014. The squad is still a long way from the overall national record of 3:39.87 from the 2009 world team. The NCSA team took the top three places with times of 3:47.56 for the “B” team, 3:49.11 for the “A” team and 3:49.92 for the “C” team.

Conor Ferguson, just 15 years old, continued his amazing year by lowering his own Irish junior national record in the 200 backstroke with a 2:03.12. That was better than the 2:03.88 he swam in early March, and placed him second in the event behind 16-year-old American Michael Taylor and his 2:02.12. Taylor is swimming through this meet unshaved but has taken both backstroke events so far. Placing third overall was American Alex Lebed with a 2:03.91.

Brendan Hyland nearly broke his own Irish national record in the 100 fly with a 54.40 in the semifinals tonight. His national record of 54.27 from this past March will be in jeopardy in tomorrow’s finals. Jonathan Burkett was the top American, qualifying second for the final with a 55.78. Zach Harting (55.86), Zach Fong (55.86) and Alaari Levreault-Lopez (56.17) will represent the USA in the final.

Another highlight for Ireland was qualifying Jonathan McGrath for the IPC world championships this summer. McGrath swam the 400 free in a special heat in finals for disabled swimmers, posting a 4:51.09, two seconds faster than the qualifying time for the Limerick swimmer.

Murphy was one of two winners for Ireland in tonight’s championship finals. The 19-year-old poured on a blazing final 50 meters to churn to the lead at 75 meters and win with a 1:02.41. Ireland went 1-2 in the event, with Dan Sweeney of Sunday’s Well placing second with a 1:03.43. Ross Palazzo was the top American in the event with a 1:04.18 for fourth, while Ian Finnerty slipped to fourth with a 1:04.35 after leading at 50 meters.

Curtis Coulter from Ards also turned on the afterburners in the final stretch to win the men’s 100 freestyle final with a 50.97. He needed that surge to pull ahead of American Mark McLaughlin, who finished a close second with a 51.12. Prendergast of UCD was third with a 51.25.

Katie Drabot won her second event of the meet, posting a 55.52 to win the 100 freestyle after taking the 200 free on the opening night. That’s a lifetime best for Drabot by .14, beating her previous standard from last March’s NCSA championships. McTaggart was second with a 56.02, just four tenths off her personal best, while Alex Wooden made it an American 1-2-3 sweep with a 56.70 for third to beat her lifetime best by three hundredths of a second.

Olivia Anderson and Alexis Wenger battled through the final of the women’s 100 breast, with each holding the lead at various points in the race. At the finish, it was Anderson who took the win in Dublin with a 1:09.30, just missing her personal best of 1:09.30. Wenger wasn’t far behind with a 1:09.82 for second, while Riley Scott (1:11.76) and Alex Preiss (1:12.34) made it an American sweep. The top Irish finisher in the race was Aisling Haughey of Aer Lingus with a 1:13.44.

Ruby Martin won her third event of the meet, taking the 400 freestyle with a 4:16.57. Grainne Murphy, representing New Ross, took the lead early and held on for 300 meters before Martin took over for good. Murphy’s kick never went above two beats per stroke, which might have made the difference as she settled for second with a 4:17.48. Tallaght’s Antoinette Neamt placed third with a 4:18.93.

Matthew Hirschberger, who trains with Katie Ledecky in the United States, took the lead in the men’s 400 free final and built a Ledecky-esque lead to win by five seconds with a 3:55.50. Josh McDonald, looking to surpass the U.S. Olympic Trials qualifying time of 3:58.69, fell a bit short with a 4:00.43. His lifetime best is 3:58.92, so he’s right on the cusp of qualification. Brendan Gibbons of Athlone was in the thick of things, placing third with a 4:00.78.

Alice Treuth took her first win of the meet, beating NCSA teammate Carrie Boone in the 200 backstroke by four seconds with a 2:14.07. It’s a lifetime best by four hundredths of a second. Boone was second with a 2:18.10, while Casey Fanz completed the USA 1-2-3 sweep with a 2:18.23. Danielle Hill, the junior record holder in the event with a 2:17.95, was the top Irish swimmer with a fourth-place time of 2:18.37.

The other championship final of the night came in the women’s 400 medley relay, and the four American squads took the top four places with times of 4:11.40, 4:12.56, 4:13.68 and 4:17.57. The Ards team was the top Irish finisher with a 4:30.42 for fifth place.

2015 Irish Open, Day 3 – Results