Tokyo qualifying times prove elusive for Dublin swimmers

by Stephen Findlater
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In a FIRST major gala for most since early 2020, Dublin swimmers found the all-important FINA A standards required to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics just out of reach at the National Team Trials at the NAC. 

It means the like of Ellen Walshe, Brendan Hyland and Niamh Coyne will now look to May’s European Championships in Budapest to try and get their qualifying marks. 

At the NAC, Templeogue’s Walshe impressed with her second best time for the 100m butterfly. She became the first Irish woman under one minute in the 100m Butterfly in January 2020 and, in her first competitive meet since February 2020, posted 59.73, just off her Irish Record time of 59.54. 

Tallaght Swim Team’s Niamh Coyne won the women’s 200m Breaststroke Final in her second-best time ever 2:27.45.  

Niamh Coyne

The National Centre Dublin swimmer came close to Olympic consideration in both the 100m and 200m Breaststroke events this week, swimming best times in both, and will look forward with confidence to another opportunity at achieving the times in June. 

For Bohernabreena’s Brendan Hyland, he was in reflective mood following the gala after which his best time for the 200m butterfly remains just 0.07 seconds outside the FINA A standard. 

He went out hard in seach of that Olympic qualifying time but ran out of steam in the last 10 metres to see Ards’ Paddy Johnston take the touch in that final. 

Hyland bounced back well in the 100m with a time of 52.87 to take the win over Johnston and he was happy to find form ahead of one last shot at qualifying for Tokyo. 

Speaking after the race Hyland commented: “After that 200 Fly final, where the wheels fell off, I was pretty shook. Ben [Higson, head coach] told me to just take it easy and try to gain my confidence back. I know people say it happens and all, but I haven’t got run down like that in about 10 years. I didn’t mind losing it, it was just how much the wheels came off. 

Ellen Walshe

“When you’re going fast, you dive in, and every single time you look at the board it’s unbelievable. All of a sudden there’s a snowball effect. Whereas when you have a bad swim, it does take a lot to try to get yourself back on the blocks to do a good job. 

“I’m just pleased to take something out of the week. I’m now hopefully on the relay (4 x 100m Medley) for the European Championships and it is a strong relay. We’ve got three or four weeks to get ready and fine tune.” 

Trojan’s Grace Hodgins knocked 15 seconds off her best time in the 1,500m semi-final en route to ultimately landing final victory a day later. In a tight finish Hodgins held off National Centre Limerick’s Ella Carroll (17:47.89) in 17:47.37. She already had the 800m win under her belt in a time of 9:10.73. 

PHOTOS – David Kiberd

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