Irish Men and Women, Spanish Women Among a Pile of Prelims Medley Relay Records


A number of National Records went down in the both the men’s and women’s 400 medley relays on Sunday morning as the 2021 European Aquatics Championships wind to their conclusion in Budapest.

Among the highlights were new record for Spain, as well as both the Irish men and women – the latter by almost 10 seconds.

Irish Women

A record for the Irish women seemed almost inevitable, but the margin by which they broke the mark was still stunning. The old record of 4:12.29 was set at a 2018 meet in Marrakesh, Morrocco, just as the Irish women were beginning to feel their rise under national team director Jon Rudd.

The Irish women haven’t swum this race recently as a national team, but with Olympic qualification on the line, as well as the best lineup they’ve had in years, pushed them to race this week.

Mona McSharry was actually on both relays, though on the old record-setting crew she swam freestyle, and this time she swam her preferred breaststroke. Ellen Walshe also swam the butterfly leg on both relays, knocking more than a second off her previous best time on that leg.

The biggest single bite, though, came on the leadoff backstroke leg, where Danielle Hill swam 1:901.07.

This relay still has the potential to take even more time off in the final, as Hill, McSharry, and Walshe have all been faster on their respective legs in individual races. As the 11th-best time in prelims, though, they won’t get that shot in the final, and are likely out of Olympic consideration.

Irish Women Irish Women
New Record
Old Record (2018)
100m Back Danielle Hill – 1:01.07
Maria Godden – 1:05.80
100m Breast Mona McSharry – 1:06.44
Niamh Coyne – 1:09.70
100m Fly Ellen Walshe – 59.72
Ellen Walshe – 1:00.98
100m Free Victoria Catterson – 55.70
Mona McSharry – 55.81
Final Time 4:02.93 4:12.29

Irish Men

Jon Rudd said coming into this meet that the primary focus for his team was to earn Olympic berths, and the Irish men moved closer to that goal on Sunday morning with a National Record of their own. The team of Shane Ryan, Darragh Greene, Brendan Hyland, and Jack McMillan finished in 3:34.62, which took more than a second off the old record of 3:35.86.

That old record was set at the 2019 World Championships.

Comparative Splits:

Irish Men Irish Men
New Record
Old Record (2019)
100m Back Shane Ryan – 54.11
Shane Ryan – 54.39
100m Breast Darragh Greene – 58.98
Darragh Greene – 59.08
100m Fly Brendan Hyland – 52.85
Brendan Hyland – 53.11
100m Free Jack McMillan – 48.68
Jordan Sloan – 49.28
Final Time 3:34.62 3:35.86

The Irish men were better everywhere, but the biggest bite came by the anchor leg Jack McMillan, who split 48.68. McMillan was at the 2019 World Championships where the old record was set, and he anchored the 400 free relay, where he split 49.63.

In the time since those World Championships, he’s improved his flat-start best in the 100 free from 50.07 to 49.22 and has supplanted Jordan Sloan as the preferred medley relay anchor for Ireland.

The two legs where the biggest opportunities for more drops in finals (Ireland was 3rd in prelims) are the backstroke leg, where Shane Ryan has been 53.7; and the butterfly leg, where Brendan Hyland has been 52.5 on a flat-start.

With only Poland leapfrogging them in prelims, if Ireland can get another few tenths in finals, that should leave them in a very solid position as the #3 wildcard with just a week to go before the relay qualifying period closes.

Spanish Women

The Spanish relay of Africa ZamoraJessica VallAina Hierro, and Lidon Munoz also clipped a National Record in the women’s 400 medley relay. The group swam a 4:02.38 to usurp the prior record of 4:02.84 set at the 2016 pre-Olympic European Championiships.

Only Vall on the breaststroke leg is a carryover from the previous record-setting relay, and she managed to swim a quarter-second faster than she did five years ago to aid in the effort.

Comparative Splits:

Spanish Women Spanish Women
New Record
Old Record (2016)
100m Back Africa Zamora – 1:01.48
Duane Da Rocha – 1:00.58
100m Breast Jessica Vall – 1:07.12
Jessica Vall – 1:07.36
100m Fly Aina Hierro – 59.79
Judit Ignacio – 1:00.11
100m Free Lidon Munoz – 53.99
Fatima Gallardo – 54.79
Final Time 4:02.38 4:02.84

The difference-maker here was Lidon Munoz, who has emerged as the country’s top sprinter in the last few years and who has broken a pile of Spanish speed records.

Like Ireland, though, the Spanish relay finished out of the final in 9th place and won’t get another crack in the final. With relays from Finland, Belarus, and Denmark, all placing ahead of them on Sunday morning as fellow wild cards, and South Africa’s 4:01 from April, Spain is tentatively teetering on the outside of Olympic qualifying in this relay. They would likely need a qualified nation to decline their spot (there are a few possible candidates for that choice) in order to earn a trip to Tokyo.

Other Records

  • The Latvian women broke the National Record with a 4:11.57. That cleared the old mark of 4:14.09 that was set in March 2020. The new record-setting relay included Arina Baikova (1:03.11), Arina Sisojeva (1:10.07), Ieva Maluka (1:02.23), and Gabriela Nikitina (56.16). Nikitina was the new addition to the relay on the anchor, and she cut almost two-and-a-half seconds from Zane Embrekte’s split to anchor the 2020 relay.
  • The Slovenian relay of Janja SegelTjasa Vozel, Katja Fain, and Neza Klancar slid a tenth under the old women’s 400 medley relay record. Sunday’s relay swam 4:09.78, which broke a 2009 record of 4:09.87.
  • The Slovak relay of Emma MarusakovaAndrea PodmanikovaTamara Potocka, and Teresa Ivanova swam a 4:08.38 to break the National Record in the women’s 400 free relay. The old record was 4:08.68 done at the 2016 European Championships. While Marusakova gave up two-and-a-half seconds on the opening backstroke leg versus the record, Podmanikova, the only carryover from the old relay, knocked two seconds off her comparative split to put them back on track.
  • Another race, another record for the on-fire Turkish federation. The relay of Ekaterina AvramovaViktoriya GunesNida Ustundag, and Selen Ozbilen swam 4:04.01 in the women’s 400 medley relay. That broke the old record of 4:05.72 that was done at the 2019 World Championships. Gunes’ 1:07.38 breaststroke split was the biggest difference-maker here.
  • The Belarusian relay of Anastasiya ShkurdaiAlina ZmushkaAnastasiya Kuliashova, and Natassia Karakouskaya combined for a 4:01.92 to make the final, put themselves in Olympic position, and set a new National Record in the women’s 400 medley relay. That swim broke the old national mark of 4:03.61 done just 2 months ago at the Belarusian Championships in late April. While the same foursome swam both relays, they switched Shkurdai and Kuliashova on the backstroke and fly legs. While Kuliashova’s 58.67 fly split was about 9-tenths slower than what Shkurdai swam in April, Shkurdai’s backstroke split of 1:00.14 more than atoned for that gap.
  • The Slovak men also broke a National Record in the 400 medley relay, by a huge margin. The team of Alex KusikTomas KlobucnikAdam Halas, and Matej Dusa swam a 3:44.62 to break the old record of 3:49.57. That old record was set just 5 years ago at the 2018 European Championships with a few overlapping swimmers. The emergence of Dusa as a relay anchor (he was the bulk of the 5-second relay margin) along with a big improvement by Halas (from 55.12 to 53.80) made the difference here.
  • The Norwegian men lopped 2 seconds off the old National Record in the 400 medley relay. Markus LieAndrew KlippenbergTomoe Hvas, and Nicholas Lia combined for a 3:38.52. That broke the old record of 3:40.57 set at the 2012 European Aquatics Championships. The Norwegian men finished 18th in that event.
  • Estonia’s men’s 400 medley relay finished in 3:37.76, which was nearly three seconds ahead of the old record of 3:40.72 set at the 2018 European Championships. Armin Evert LelleMartin AllikveeAlex Ahtiainen, and Daniel Zaitsev were on the new records-setting relay, with Lelle replacing Ralf Tribuntsov as the backstroke leg from the old record. While the Estonians were better on three out of four legs here, it was their back half of Ahtiainen (52.43) and Zaitsev (48.31) that did the most damage on the record.
  • The Bulgarian men chopped more than 6 seconds off the National Record in the 400 medley relay, swimming 3:37.48 in Sunday’s prelims. The relay of Kaloyan LevterovLyubomire EpitropovJosif Miladinov, and Antani Ivanov combined for a 3:37.48, which broke the former record of 3:43.70. Only Miladinov and Levterov were carryovers from the previous record setting relay, which was actually done at the 2019 European Junior Championships, as the senior relay hasn’t raced often.
  • Austria’s men’s 400 medley relay of Brenhard ReitshammerChristopher RothbauerSimon Bucher, and Heiko Gigler combined for a 3:36.62 to break the old National Record of 3:40.19. The old record was set at the 2018 European Championships. The front-half remained the same from that prior relay, though was slower on both legs, while the new look back-half of Bucher (51.80 – 3.06 second drop) and Gigler (48.03 – 1.01 second drop) did the work on the record. That’s one of 5 new National Records set by the Austrians this week.

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3 years ago

Who’s in the medley relay wild card spots now for the olympics?

Reply to  Joe
3 years ago

Hopefully Swimswam will give us an update tomorrow

Jay Ryan
3 years ago

Just FYI the final times of the Irish women’s MR records are reversed in the breakdown

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Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder/co-owner of He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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