Team Ireland were represented by three swimmers in the heats of the World Para Swimming Allianz Championships in London this morning as Patrick Flanagan, Ailbhe Kelly and Jonathan McGrath competed at the London Aquatics Centre today. After her race in the 400m Freestyle, Ailbhe Kelly went on to announce her retirement from Para Swimming.
Ailbhe Kelly raced a 5:32:96 in the Women’s 400m Freestyle S8 to finish 7th in her heat, a time that was just a second outside her personal best. Ailbhe then went on to announce that this would be her final championships for Ireland and that she would be retiring from international paraswimming after taking part in the relay tomorrow.
‘I made this decision a while ago, I think it’s just the best thing for me personally, I still really love swimming and I always will and it’s been a massive part of my life for years now but I just had to come to this decision because there’s been a lot of changes, particularly within classification, and the way it’s affected me personally and it’s just really difficult to be competitive in S8 for me.’
Jonathan McGrath made his first appearance of the Championships as he was the first of the Irish into the pool for the Men’s 400m Freestyle. McGrath swam a 4:53:85 and finished the heat in 5th place and was upbeat about his performance and looking ahead to Tokyo.
‘It was a really fun race, the time was 0.6 slower that what I did in Glasgow so it’s not great but at least I can back up another 4:53 but I need to start getting down to the 4:50 mark for Tokyo.’
Patrick Flanagan recorded a 1:26:74 in the 100m Backstroke S6 and was happy overall with how his week went despite his participation in the event being in question right up to the weekend after he suffered an infection.
‘I was in and out with the medical officer with Paralympics Ireland last week loads of times wondering what I was going to be doing this time this week, it’s a huge positive even getting in the water and still to swim my 2nd or 3rd fastest time ever so it’s positive.’
It will be a history making day for Team Ireland tomorrow when, for the first time ever, a Para relay team will compete for Ireland. Ailbhe Kelly, in her final race, Amy Marren, Ellen Keane and Nicole Turner will be the swimmers to represent the country at 12:36pm. Barry McClements will be the first Irish swimmer in the pool when he competes in the 400m Freestyle and he is due to be followed by Amy Marren who will hope that her persistent shoulder injury has cleared up sufficiently to allow her to compete.
World Para Swimming Allianz Championships- Day 4 Results
Jonathan McGrath, Men’s 400m Freestyle S8, 4:53:85, 5th
Ailbhe Kelly, Women’s 400m Freestyle S8, 5:32:96, 7th
Patrick Flanagan, Men’s 100m Backstroke S6, 1:26:74, 7th
World Para Swimming Allianz Championships- Day 5 Schedule
Barry McClements 400m Freestyle 10:00am Final 6:03pm
Amy Marren 400m Freestyle 10:13am Final 6:10pm
Women’s Med Relay 4 x 100m 12:36pm