The country’s top swimmers were chasing International qualifications as well as Regional or National Squad places last week at the National Aquatic Centre in Dublin in the Swim Ireland Irish Open. Many of the Ireland’s top swimmers were in action trying to qualify for this summer’s World and European Championships just 18 months until the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Over five days the four Enniskillen Lakelanders competed against more than 400 swimmers from 67 clubs to compete for 34 National Titles. This year the Irish Open was the qualifying event for no less than six international teams. Although the club’s senior squad didn’t reach these heights they did put in some fantastic performances during the meet with each one of the four swimmers reaching finals.

Ellie McCartney is still 13 but reached Open Finals and achieved Swim Ireland Regional Squad times in each of her four events.

A PB in the 100m Breaststroke saw Ellie qualify for the Open Final where she finished ninth. Her heat swim in the 200m Breaststroke also saw her through to the Open Final where Ellie swam a new PB of 2:38.29 to finish sixth overall behind triple Olympian Hannah Miley. This was followed up with a PB in the heat of the 50m Breaststroke and an eighth place finish in the Open Final as well as an eighth place in the 200m IM Open Final. With time on her side the possibilities are endless for Ellie over the coming years.

16-year-old Lewis McCartney competed in both the 200m Breaststroke and 200m Backstroke. In the heat of the Breaststroke Lewis swam to a new two second PB to qualify for the Junior Final where he knocked another second off his time to finish seventh in a time of 2:38.83. In the Backstroke Lewis matched his PB to qualify as a reserve for the Junior final but had to withdraw to return home for his studies. Overall Lewis is building confidence in the build-up to the Irish Summer Nationals.

Kealan McShea swam in both the Individual Medley events as well as 200m Backstroke. A good swim in the 400m IM saw Kealan qualify as the fastest seed for the Junior final but he withdrew to concentrate on the 200m IM the following day.

In the heat for the 200m IM he qualified for the Junior final with a new one second PB but he saved the best for the final where he smashed another four seconds from his time to finish fifth in a time of 2:16.55 earning a consideration time for the Ulster Regional Coaching Squad. Kealan finished the event with a comfortable 200m Backstroke and will be extremely satisfied with his Irish Open

Ben Lynch is proving himself to be a long-distance Freestyle swimmer with great prowess following strong swims in his two events over the meet. His 400m heat place saw him progress to the final where he swam a time of 4:26.42 to finish tenth overall. A fantastic 35 second PB in the 1500m Freestyle saw Ben finish tenth once again in a time of 17:39.63 and sets him up nicely for the rest of the season.

The regional skills academies also came together during the meet to compete for the Inter-Provincial Title. Local girl, Izzy Lannon, took part and helped the Ulster Team to the title.

A satisfactory meet according to Coach, Aaron Rickhuss, and with the additional planned pool and land training the road to the Ulster Long Course as well as the Irish Summer Nationals will be a long and hard one but the destination is success for those who are prepared to work hard.