17-year-old five-hundredths of a second shy of bronze

GRÁINNE MURPHY suffered heartbreak at the European Swimming Championships in Budapest yesterday as she was just five-hundredths of a second shy of winning the bronze medal for Ireland.

The 17-year-old from Ballinaboola, Co Wexford finished her 16 lengths of the pool in the 800m freestyle in a world-class time of 8.25.04.

But her fourth place swim nevertheless rewrites the Irish record books and indeed lowers the Irish senior record again, by almost four seconds — an 11-second improvement that the young swimmer has made to the record since she arrived in Budapest. Murphy is also Ireland’s only finalist at a European Long Course Swimming Championships in the last 10 years.

“It went so well from the start, I just kept my head down and kept going. Obviously I could see (Italy’s Federica) Pellegrini coming up behind me — I didn’t look at her on the last 50m but she snuck in there, and that’s the way it goes.”

Murphy, who established her qualifying time for these championships as far back as February of this year, has shown tremendous form this week. A seventh place finish in the 400m Individual Medley on Monday, the first day of the competition, was further reward for her consistent training regime with coach Ronald Claes, who she trains with at Swim Ireland’s high performance centre at the University of Limerick.

“I’m not disappointed; it was just an amazing swim. Fourth place at a European championships — my first major competition, it hasn’t really sunk in yet,” she added.

Elsewhere, Barry Murphy and Ryan Harrison swam in the heats of the 100m freestyle, finishing in 51.23 (47th place) and 51.16 (44th place) respectively.

It was a season’s best time for Harrison, who holds the Irish record at 49.49, set last year at the World Swimming Championships while wearing a polyurethane suit. Dubliner Murphy this morning goes in his premier event, the 50m breaststroke, in which he is ranked within the top 10 in Europe.

Other Irish in action are Clare Dawson (200m freestyle), Melanie Nocher (200m freestyle, 50m backstroke) and Gráinne Murphy (1500m freestyle).

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