The six strong Irish swim team return home this evening from the Paralympic Swimming World Championships in Glasgow with two bronze medals, won by Darragh McDonald in the 400m Freestyle on Monday last, and Ellen Keane in the 200m Individual Medley last night. The team return to Dublin Airport on flight EI3227, due to arrive into Terminal 2 at 7pm.
The seven day championships; the focal point of the Paralympic swimming calendar for 2015, were certainly successful for the Irish team with the two bronze medals, fourteen final appearances, three season’s bests, and fourteen lifetime best swims.
McDonald started the week off on a high for the Irish team demonstrating his characteristic competitive spirit to win 400m Freestyle bronze, considering he had come into these Championships ranked fourth, after a long lay-off in 2103 due to injury and subsequent surgery. Although again struck by injury yesterday in his final event; a grade one muscle tear, after a brief period of recovery the UCD student will look to build on this medal win as he shifts his focus towards Rio 2016.
Ellen Keane swam lifetime bests in two of her events earlier in the week; the 100m Backstroke and the 100m Breaststroke but despite setting those marks was somewhat disappointed not to have challenged the podium in her main event; the 100m Breaststroke. Keane more than made up for that disappointment last night producing her second lifetime best swim of the day in the 200m Individual Medley final to fight back from fourth over the closing lengths to snatch the much coveted world bronze.
Although medals always make the headlines the two teenagers on the team have shone this week in their first ever world championships; Ailbhe Kelly and Nicole Turner.
For thirteen year old Nicole her emergence this week as she excelled in the uniquely challenging and competitive atmosphere that is a word championships has been significant and memorable. The Laois Marlins club athlete made the final in every one of the six events she contested in the S6 class and even more impressively set a new lifetime best in each.
For sixteen year old Ailbhe who only made her debut at last year’s European championships her week has been a huge success and a major step forward on her international swimming career. She also produced one final appearance, lifetime best swims in each of her three events, and the significance of attaining a Rio MQS (minimum qualifying standard) in one of them.
Despite swimming a season’s best and finishing sixth in the final of his main event; the 200m Freestyle, London Paralympian James Scully was disappointed not to challenge his PB for the distance. As the week progressed so too did his swimming and he will be pleased with final appearances and lifetime best swims in both the 50m and 100m Freestyle events.
Killaloe’s Jonathan McGrath finished tenth and thirteenth overall in his two events; the 400m and 100m Freestyle, but will be disappointed not to have challenged the recent personal bests he set in qualifying for these worlds, and edge into the 400m final.
The Irish team is proudly sponsored by Allianz; an official sponsor of Paralympics Ireland.