Cork swimmers impressed at the McCullagh International Meet

Mary Haughney has all the details from the Cork competitors at the recent event in Down
Cork swimmers impressed at the McCullagh International Meet

Blackrock Swimming club members Noah and Phelim

THE McCullagh International Meet took place from February 24-26 at the Bangor Aurora Leisure Centre in county Down.

Over 800 swimmers were in action, including a large team of British Olympic medallists including Tom Dean, Duncan Scott, Kathleen Dawson, Freya Anderson, James Guy and James Wilby.

Relays at the McCullagh International act as National Championships. The Sunday’s Well ladies’ quartet, Anna Feenan, Lauren Farr, Beth Nolan and Sharon Semchiy were crowned National Champions in the first relay of the meet, when they won the women’s 800m Freestyle Final in 8:52.36. A change of personnel for the 400m medley relay, with Isabel Kidney replacing Anna Feenan for the breaststroke leg was rewarded with a 5th place finish 4:34.07. The men’s 800m freestyle team, Marc Galland, Sean Bugler, Michael and Andrew Feenan placed fourth overall 8:49.43.

Hannah O’Shea, Dolphin was the only Irish competitor in the Women’s 200m butterfly final, she placed 10th overall 2:25.36. Victory went to Laura Stephens, Loughborough University 2:10.10. The ‘B’ final was won by Sharon Semchiy, Sundays Well with an impressive time of 2:21.59. O’Shea had a busy final day which saw her qualify for the ‘B’ final in 3 events. She placed 6th at 200m IM 2:30.29 and 8th at 100m butterfly 1:05.92 but from the 400m freestyle final due to the pressure of three back-to-back finals.

Semchiy was one of only two Irish competitors to make the 100m butterfly final where she was placed 10th on 1:04.19. Semchiy also placed 10th at 50m butterfly 28.78. On that occasion, the only other Irish competitor was Olympian, Danielle Hill who placed second on 27.07.

The highly-anticipated Men’s 200m freestyle final which saw local boy and Tokyo Olympian, Jack McMillan qualify as the top seed, lived up to expectation. The Olympic Champion, Tom Dean led at the first 50m but McMillan touched first at the mid-way point. A lead he did not relinquish over the back 100m to clinch the victory 148.24 ahead of Dean on 1:48.45 with Olympian, James Guy completing the podium on 1:49.63. Speaking after the event, McMillan said “It felt good. It is very early in the season and everyone is in a strong training programme, but it gives me an idea where I stand in the mix. My focus this year will be on the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham where most of the guys there, will be the same as those we are competing against this week”.

Andrew Feenan placed seventh 2:20.45, in a stacked 200m breaststroke field which was won by Olympian James Wilby 2:12.66. The Limerick duo of Uiseann Cooke 2:15.23 and Eoin Corby 2:17.57 completed the podium. Feenan narrowly missed out to Angus Allison, Scotland 1:05.65 to touch for second at 100m breaststroke ‘B’ final 1:05.82. He had a fifth place finish over 50m distance 30.90. Dolphin’s Ewan Fane placed 8th overall 31.95.

The ladies from Sundays Well also featured at finals. Beth Nolan, claimed 4th in the ladies’ ‘B’ final, 1:15.01 at 100m breaststroke with Isabel Kidney ninth in the ‘B’ final over 200m breaststroke 2:50.71. Nolan was third in the ‘B’ final at 200m backstroke 2:22.63 with club mate Lauren Farr in fifth on 2:25.29, The only other Cork finalists on the last day were Cadan McCarthy, Mallow who claimed 2nd at 200m IM ‘B’ final 2:08.13 and Neddie Irwin, Dolphin with sixth at 200m backstroke ‘B’ final 2:13.37.

The young Age Group swimmers were impressive over the three days. 13-year old Phelim Hanley, Blackrock, swimming at his first International Meet, cruised to victory in the 13-14 yrs 200m butterfly final touching on 2:33.89, 8.49 seconds ahead of nearest rival, Oisin McGlue, Bluefin.

Lexi Dunne of Dolphin won the girls 13-year old 200m freestyle final, 2:17.38 and claimed a second victory at 400m freestyle on the final evening. Dunne dipped under the five minute mark, posting 4:59.53, an impressive 10.83 seconds faster than her entry time. She was second at 200m breaststroke and fourth at 200m IM.

In the boy’s 13-14 yrs 200m breaststroke final, Luke Merrigan of Dolphin led for 150m but tired on the final 50m to place third overall 2:49.24. Merrigan had two fourth place finishes on the final evening at 200m IM and 200m backstroke.

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