Swim Ireland has announced its final 9-swimmer roster for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games: the final choice among a number of unusual circumstances for the team after a roller-coaster qualifying period.
The team is the largest group of swimmers that Ireland has ever sent to the Olympic Games.
The roster officially includes Ellen Walshe, who did hit a FINA ‘A’ cut in the last weekend of qualifying, albeit outside of the stated Irish qualifying procedures. She was given a reprieve, however, to swim the 200 IM and 100 fly in Tokyo.
Correction: this article previously said that Danielle Hill was the swimmer to have complications in qualifying as above. While Hill also hit her FINA “A” time in the final opportunity, she was within 1.5% of the qualifying time going into the meet, so no special exceptions had to be made for her qualifying.
First, the roster:
- Daniel Wiffen – 800 free, 1500 free
- Darragh Greene – 100 breast/200 breast
- Shane Ryan – 100 back, 100 fly, 800 free relay
- Finn McGeever (800 Free Relay Only)
- Jack McMillan (800 Free Relay Only)
- Brendan Hyland – 200 fly, 800 free relay
- Ellen Walshe – 200 IM, 100 fly
- Danielle Hill – 100 back, 50 free
- Mona McSharry – 100 breast, 200 breast
Men’s 800 Free Relay
Ireland’s only relay at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics will be the men’s 800 free relay. The country was originally invited in the men’s 400 medley relay as well, but that offer was rescinded when FINA realized an error in not including the time of a Greek relay in the “Wildcard” rankings.
Ireland initially was to protest that relay, but ultimately has accepted the result.
This has left the country in a peculiar position, because with only one relay qualified, they are only able to bring two relay-only swimmers to the meet.
Because of FINA rules, however, two of the four swimmers who swam the 800 free relay at the European Championships that earned the qualifying time, Jordan Sloan and Gerry Quinn, could not be chosen for Tokyo.
Instead, Ireland has had to scrap together four members to swim the relay.
One will be Brendan Hyland, who has been invited based on a FINA ‘B’ invitation to attend the Games in the 200 fly. Swim Ireland said that while they wouldn’t normally take swimmers who only received ‘B’ invitations, they need Hyland to help fill out the 800 free relay.
His was the country’s only ‘B cut’ invitation.
The fourth member of that relay will be Shane Ryan, who is a sprinter, but among the swimmers who earned individual invites via ‘A’ cuts is the next-best option.
Ireland’s men’s 800 free relay, along with personal bests:
- Shane Ryan – 1:59.32 (from 2010, when he was 16 – 1:35.75 yards best)
- Brendan Hyland – 1:50.51
- Finn McGeever – 1:48.13
- Jack McMillan – 1:47.10
Swimmers being left home:
- Gerry Quinn – 1:48.87
- Jordan Sloan – 1:47.41
McGeever was ultimately chosen over Sloan and Quinn in spite of Sloan and Quinn both having faster splits at the European Championships in May. Sloan has a substantially-faster best flat start time, and finished 2nd at the National Team Trials in April (ahead of McGeever who was 3rd).
National Performance Director Jon Rudd, however, pointed to Ireland’s selection procedures, and the fact that between Euros and April’s selection met, McGeever’s 1:48.13 at Trials in the semifinals is the best time among him and Sloan, leading to his selection.
“This has been the longest ever Olympic cycle and qualification period that the sport has faced,” said Rudd via press release. “To have nine swimmers amongst an 11 member aquatics team for the Games is an excellent outcome for our sport and all those involved.
“A double Trials and a protracted relay appeal meant that many of our athletes have not known until very recently whether they would or could be selected to this team, and for all of the difficult days of uncertainty that they have had to face, we very much sympathise with them, particularly those who did not get over the line on this occasion. I have the greatest respect and admiration for Jordan and Gerry in particular.
“For the nine athletes on this team, there have been numerous coaches, clubs and family members that have been part of the journey alongside all of our athletes and for this, we sincerely thank them. Our attentions now turn to our preparation camp in Hamamatsu and our strongest endeavours to see this talented team perform to their best over the nine days of racing in Tokyo.”
The reprieve from domestic selection criteria for Hyland was awarded, ostensibly, for the benefit of the relay, but his individual potential in the 200 fly is still among Ireland’s best. At the 2019 World Championships, his 11th place finish in the 200 fly was the country’s only swim in an Olympic event beyond the preliminary rounds.