Swimming: Jack Cassin among young Cork stars to shine at Irish Open

Mary Haughney rounds up the action from the National Aquatic Centre
Swimming: Jack Cassin among young Cork stars to shine at Irish Open

Dolphin swimmer Jack Cassin was in top form last week. Picture: INPHO/Bryan Keane

THE Irish Open Championships, the premier meet on the Swim Ireland calendar, took place at the National Aquatic Centre.

All Irish athletes training abroad, returned for the championships, as they aimed to secure consideration times for European & World championships over the summer.

Day 1 started with a bang, when Olympian Ellen Walshe became the first Irish woman to swim sub 59 seconds in her preliminary swim at 100m butterfly, 58.32 and then went on to swim sub 58 seconds in her final swim that evening, resetting the Irish Senior Record (ISR) to 57.96. That time is a World Aquatics ‘A’ time for 2023 World Championships, Japan and is also a consideration time for the inaugural European U23 Championships, in Dublin in August 2023.

Sharon Semchiy, SWSC placed 5th in that fly final, 1:03.87, while Heather Fane, Dolphin won the ‘B’ final on 1:06.91 with Izzy McGrath, SWSC in 6th on 1:10.02.

In the men’s 200m butterfly final, Jack Cassin, National Centre Limerick (NCL) & Dolphin went sub 2 minutes to claim the National Title on 1:59.72.Cassin’s time has also earned him a consideration time for the LEN U23 Championships in August. Florida-based Liam Custer, SWSC, was second on 2:04.32. Alex Barrett, Blackrock won bronze in the Junior final, 2:17.95 with teammate, Phelim Hanley in 5th on 2:18.29. Liam O’Driscoll, SWSC was 3rd in the ‘B’ final with 2:36.29.

SWSC & Blackrock clubs featured strongly in the Junior final of 400m freestyle. The final was won by Sean Bugler, SWSC on 4:16.39 with teammate, Michael O’Driscoll splitting the Blackrock duo to place 6th on 4:23.93. Barrett was 5th on 4:22.73 with Hanley in 7th on 4:24.13.

The Feenan siblings, SWSC both featured in finals on the opening day. The men’s 100m breaststroke final was the highlight of the evening. Limerick’s Eoin Corby and Olympian Darragh Greene were in a titanic battle to the finish line. Corby registered first, touching on 1:01.00 just .02 ahead of Greene.

Andrew Feenan placed fourth on 1:04.03. Anna Feenan placed 5th in the 400m freestyle 4:35.43. Isabel Kidney, SWSC placed second in the Junior final at 50m freestyle 27.26 with Lexi Dunne, Dolphin in 10th on 28.37. Sharon Semchiy, SWSC won the ‘B’ final on 27.12.

Cork swimmers featured prominently on Day 2, particularly in the distance events. Jack Cassin won the 400m IM final in a new ISR 4:22.57 and also secured a second consideration time for the LEN U23 Championships.


The previous record holder, Cadan McCarthy, Mallow, was 2nd on 4:27.24 and Liam Custer completed the podium on 4:32.28. The Blackrock duo Phelim Hanley & Alex Barrett led the Cork contingent in the Junior Final with Hanley claiming bronze on 4:55.50. Barrett was 4th on 4:57.46. Ricky Fane, Dolphin placed 5th on 5:00.00 and Eanna Garvey, Mallow was 9th on 5:09.02.

Neddie Irwin and Ben Merrigan, Dolphin featured in the 200m backstroke final and finished in sixth & 10th respectively. Sean Bugler, SWSC placed 10th in the Junior final. Beth Nolan and Antonia Sech placed 7th & 9th respectively in the girls 200m backstroke final. Shauna Murphy and Michelle O’Shea, Dolphin placed 10th in the Junior final and 6th in the ‘B’ final, respectively.

Isabel Kidney lined up for the 100m breaststroke final alongside Olympian and Irish Record holder, Mona McSharry. McSharry was in blistering form and lowered her own ISR, clocking 1:06.04 and secured an ‘A’ standard for World Aquatics Championships, in Japan, later this summer.

Of note, McSharry’s time, 1:06.04 is the second fastest time in the world, so far this year, with only the Dutch Tes Schouten, faster on 1:05.92. McSharry added the 50m breaststroke title on Day 3 with another ISR time of 30.29. That time is also the second fastest in the World so far this year over 50m.

Kidney placed 10th overall in the 100m final and 6th in the 50m final. Lexi Dunne, placed 8th in the Junior final over 100m and 4th over 50m.

Senan Harvey, Mallow won bronze in the Junior 50m breaststroke final on 31.43. The Dolphin boys, Ryan Ates was 6th and Ricky Fane 10th, while Sasha Lychuk was ninth in the ‘B’ final.

The results from the final two days of competition will feature next week.

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