Swim Ireland’s Irish Open Swimming Championships get underway tomorrow at the National Aquatic Centre in Dublin.
Beyond chasing national titles and podiums, Irish swimmers are aiming to qualify for the European Senior and Junior Championships and World Youth Olympic Games Teams this coming northern summer.
Some 350 swimmers from 62 clubs, including team of 50 from the USA National Club Swimming Association, will race over five days in 34 individual and 7 relay events.
Not all of Ireland’s best will be there: title holders Conor Ferguson, Jordan Sloan, Danielle Hill, James Brown and Calum Bain as well as Jamie Graham, Curtis Coulter, David Thompson and Barry McClements will be racing for Norther Ireland at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games for six days from Thursday and can qualify for other international events at the multi-sports gathering in Australia.
The two-worlds hunt for senior qualifying times for the 2018 European Championships in Glasgow come August includes Rio 2016 Olympians Nicholas Quinn and Shane Ryan and World Junior medallists Mona McSharry and Conor Ferguson.
Ireland’s junior swimmers will be looking to make the consideration times for the European Junior Championships in Finland and the World Youth Olympic Games in Argentina in September. 2017 European Junior semi-finalists Niamh Coyne, Rebecca Reid and Ellen Walshe are all eligible again in 2018.
Swim Ireland National Performance Director Jon Rudd noted: “The Irish Open Swimming Championships is always an exciting event, deciding our National Champions for any one season. However, this year’s event has additional emphasis placed upon it. In conjunction with our Northern Ireland athletes competing simultaneously at the Commonwealth Games in Australia, these five days form our sole Trials for our international teams in the summer.
“Coaches and athletes have been working together to ensure that they can prepare ‘for the day that matters’ – and this event in Dublin, alongside the Games on the Gold Coast is the beginning of that process. Irish athletes from home and abroad will descend on the new-look five-day competition to challenge for places on our summer teams. And so, we look forward to an exciting week of competition and to see who has what it takes to perform to their best and earn a place on our coveted international teams this summer.”