The 2020 Irish Open Swimming Championships were set to begin today, April 1st in Dublin. But, as with equivalent Olympic-qualifying meets everywhere, were canceled due to the global coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
We now know that the Olympic Games themselves have been pushed to July 2021, giving athletes another year to prepare once they’ve come to terms with how quickly things have changed both in and out of the pool.
Before we turn towards the Olympic future, let’s first take stock of the present by reviewing the biggest storylines we had anticipated coming out of medal-contending nations had their trials taken place as scheduled. We’ll begin with Ireland.
Shane Ryan‘s Olympic Preview
Shane Ryan was entered in the 100m free, 100m backstroke and 100m fly events, with his most likely-to-qualify event coming in the 1back. Ryan owns the Irish national record with a mark of 53.73 from the 2019 edition of the Irish Championships. He would have needed to have been near that effort in Dublin, as the FINA ‘A’ cut rests at a 53.85 threshold.
At the 2019 World Aquatics Championships, Ryan posted a heats swim of 54.24 to render himself in 21st place, and finished 11th in the 50 back. He earned a bronze medal at the 2018 World Short Course Championships in the 50 back.
Robert Powell Was MIA
20-year-old Robert Powell was a member of Ireland’s national record-breaking men’s 4x200m freestyle relay at the 2019 FINA World Aquatic Championships in Gwangju. The National Centre Dublin athlete teamed up with Jack McMillan, Jordan Sloan and Brendan Hyland to establish a new Irish standard of 7:13.91 en route to placing 16th in Gwangju.
However, Powell’s name was absent from the entry lists for this year’s Irish Open Championships (Olympic Trials), which meant he would not have been able to represent Ireland in Toyko had the Games continued for July this year. As he has finished in the top 3 of the men’s 50m, 100m and 200m freestyles the past 2 years, his absence would have been felt in those sprint free events.
Danielle Hill‘s Record-Breaking Streak
On-the-move Danielle Hill fired off multiple national records over the past year and was set to take on the 50m and 100m back events, as well as the 50m and 100m free. She was the top-seeded swimmer across all and most recently set the 100m back national record of 1:00.90 earlier this year at the McCullagh International.
That time for Hill sits just over half a second away from the FINA A cut of 1:00.25, giving her an attainable goal at these defunct Irish Championships. With an extra year, Hill has more time to devise what it will take to make that happen, as well as get closer to the OLY-qualifying marks in the free events.