Mona McSharry booked her place at the Tokyo Games when swimming inside the 100m breaststroke qualifying time at this morning’s Irish Olympic trials.
Coming into this week’s meet, McSharry’s lifetime best in the 100m breaststroke was three hundredths of a second outside the 1.07.07 qualifying time.
But in this morning’s heats, the 20-year-old Sligo swimmer dipped under 1.07 for the first time in her career when posting a new Irish senior record of 1.06.97 to secure her place at the Tokyo Games.
It is the first time an Irish female swimmer has ever broken 1.07 for the 100m breaststroke in a long course pool.
“Seeing 1.06 on the board is just overwhelming, it is just so good,” said McSharry after her swim.
‘It’s still sinking in, but I am excited to go and jump around my apartment for a little while. Sometimes you can forget to live in it for a minute, so I am definitely going to work on that today, because I have been striving for this for so long.
I was trying not to think about it this morning, which I’ve been doing the last three weeks. Just trying not to build it up so much in my head – it’s just another 100m Breaststroke and I’m just going to swim it. I had a set plan this morning and I have a very organised way that I do stuff to make sure I don’t have time to sit and worry about my race.
The first 50 felt really good. I could see Niamh (Coyne) beside me, so that was definitely pushing me on. When I turned, I could still see her there and I knew I would have to pick it up and really go for it. It definitely burned in the last 10m. At that point you just have to push through. I did have that wonder, does this burn and I’m not going fast enough, or is it because I’m pushing to new levels. It’s very hard to distinguish sometimes. You just have to push to the wall and see what the time is. I knew I was going to do it, and I knew I could do it, but it was still really nice to turn around and be surprised to see it on the board.’
McSharry will also compete in the 200m breaststroke this week, where she will be looking to qualify in a second event for the Games.
Daniel Wiffen, Darragh Greene and Shane Ryan also went under the FINA A Olympic Consideration Times (OCT) for the Tokyo Games in July.
Wiffen, in the first race of the morning, took an incredible 21 seconds off his best time in the 800m freestyle. He came home in 7:52.68, inside the FINA OQT of 7:54.31. The 19-year-old, who trains in Loughborough University and swims for Larne Swimming Club, also knocked 13 seconds off the Irish senior record of 8:05.30 set by Andrew Meegan in 2013.
A delighted Wiffen commented ‘It’s probably the most nervous competition I’ve ever been to. I only managed to eat cereal for breakfast. I was thinking about it all day. I knew I had to be in and around 3:55 out on the 400m Free, so I wanted to be quite comfortable out. I knew I went out the right time and towards the end I had a cheeky look at the clock on the last 50 to see where I was. I just got my head down then to get that time. It’s unbelievable – 19 and going to the Olympics."
Greene of National Centre Dublin, already under consideration time for Tokyo (59.93) in the 100m Breaststroke after a 59.82 at World Championships in 2019, dominated the race from start to finish, with a national record of 59.76 in this morning’s heats to consolidate his position as Ireland’s top male breaststroker.
19-year-old Eoin Corby has also put himself in contention for an OCT this evening after a personal best swim of 1:00.23. The National Centre Limerick swimmer needs to find just three tenths of a second to meet the time of 59.93.
In the 100m Backstroke Ryan equalled the FINA OCT of 53.85. Ryan, who is already under consideration for the Tokyo Games after a swim of 53.73 at the Irish Open in 2019 was the clear winner ahead of Larne’s Conor Ferguson in 54.67.
In the women’s heats Larne’s Danielle Hill swam an easy 1:03.07 and will no doubt be going for the FINA time of 1:00.25 in this afternoon’s second round.
The Men’s 200m Freestyle saw Jack McMillan top the heats with a time of 1:47.43 closely followed by Bangor team-mate Jordan Sloan in 1:48.43. McMillan has a best time of 1:47.10 and with the FINA OCT at 1:47.02, this evening’s race should be very exciting