Keane leads Irish team

by Gazette Reporter
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FORMER Aer Lingus swimmer and double Paralympian Ellen Keane will once again head up the Irish team as they named a very competitive team for the Paralympic (IPC) Swimming European Open Championships which will take place in Funchal, Portugal, from May 1 to 7.
The Irish team is made up of Keane, a World Championship bronze medallist and double Paralympian (Beijing 2008 and London 2012), along with fellow London Paralympians, James Scully and Jonathan McGrath.
The team also features Ailbhe Kelly, who will appear at her second European Championships, and Nicole Turner who made her debut on the international stage at the 2015 World Championships, while 14-year-old Barry McClements is competing in his first international championship.
The championships are the last chance for swimmers to secure qualification times for the upcoming Games in Rio.
However, due to the open nature of the event, it is not just limited to European athletes, but instead, some of the best swimmers from around the world will also be competing.
“We’ve just returned from a really positive event in Holland, where the team trained hard and competed well. We have been fine-tuning final preparations since, and we are now in good shape heading into these Championships,” stated team manager, Hayley Burke.
Indeed, the upcoming event is set to be a tough but exciting test for the squad. 21-year-old Keane, who secured a World Championship bronze medal in the 200 IM in 2015, is hoping to compete at her third Paralympic Games in Rio this year having made her debut at the Games at Beijing in 2008 at the age of just 13.
Fellow National Aquatic Centre swimmer Scully, who claimed two European bronze medals in 2014, will be targeting personal best performances in the 100m and 200m freestyle.
Meanwhile, McGrath is also looking to put in a big performance and hopes to achieve the Rio minimum qualification standard time in the 400m Freestyle.
Elsewhere, 17-year-old Kelly is competing in her third major international, having debuted at the European Championships in 2014.
She has achieved two Rio minimum Qualification Standard times in the S8 400m freestyle and 100m backstroke and will be hoping to final in these events.
Turner, at just 13, is competing in her second major senior championships and will be aiming to challenge for a medal in the SB6 100m breaststroke and also to final in multiple events.

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