Irish Record holder Jack McMillan has decided to represent Great Britain in international competition moving forward, robbing Ireland of one of its great talents, and filling a hole in the British lineup heading toward Paris 2024.
The news came buried in a Swim Ireland release about Ireland’s team for this week’s European Championships in Rome. McMillan is one of several prominent Irish swimmers who will be absent from the meet for various reasons.
McMillan holds the Irish Record in the 200 free thanks to a 1:46.66 done at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. That swim was done on a leadoff leg of Ireland’s 14th-place 800 free relay that missed the final. It was the relay’s fastest split by almost two seconds, even without the benefit of a rolling start.
The British team that he will be joining went on to win the Olympic gold medal in the event. While the time for the 22-year old McMillan likely wouldn’t have improved that gold medal winning finals relay, he does bring two key things to the table for Great Britain in this event.
One is that he’s younger than some of that group, which includes James Guy, 26, and Duncan Scott, 25. That not only forces those guys to remain sharp, but it gives Great Britain some sustainability of this success into the future. Besides McMillan, Tom Dean is also 22, and Matthew Richards is 19. Dean and Richards both swam on the finals relay as well, and Dean was the individual Olympic gold medalist in the 200 free.
In the more immediate term, it gives the Brits some more depth after the recent retirement of Calum Jarvis. Jarvis, who split 1:45.53 on a prelims leg in Tokyo, retired after the conclusion of last week’s Commonwealth Games.
McMillan, meanwhile, will have a big hill to climb in his best events to crack a British team individually. His results are hyper-focused on the 200 free for now (his next-best times are a 49.12 in the 100 free and 2:02.98 in the 200 IM), and Britain is loaded in that race.
McMillan is in a unique situation as a native of Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland is administratively part of the UK, and the official Team GB name at the Olympics is “Team Great Britain and Northern Ireland,” because Northern Ireland is not, technically, part of Great Britain. For branding reasons, though, the team is usually just referred to as Team GB.
Northern Ireland athletes, however, have the choice to represent either Ireland or Great Britain in international competition like the Olympic Games.
In spite of that unique rule, McMillan will still be required to sit out a year of competition, meaning that he won’t be eligible to compete for Great Britain until the summer of 2023. Because of the later timing of the 2023 World Championships, though, he would be eligible by the time that event came around, if selected.
During that year, he will have to establish residency in the UK, which won’t be difficult given that he trains with Stirling in Scotland. That club is also home to one of the world’s top 200 freestylers: Duncan Scott.
McMillan will still be eligible to represent Northern Ireland at the Commonwealth Games, however. The Republic of Ireland (known generally as just “Ireland”) is not a member of the Commonwealth of Nations and doesn’t send a team to the Commonwealth Games.
Others Missing from the Euros Roster
McMillan isn’t the only Irish swimmer who is missing from the European Championships roster. Another rising middle-distance star in the country Daniel Wiffen is also not participating. According to Swim Ireland, he “has elected not to compete in this competition, having already featured in Birmingham and at the World Championships in Budapest this season.”
Wiffen, another Irish Record holder, also is from Northern Ireland, which gives him the same flexibility as McMillan, if he so chooses. Wiffen has not yet publicly announced the intention to change his sporting citizenship, however.
Other names missing include American-trained Ellen Walshe. Walshe has withdrawn on “medical grounds,” without elaboration. Walshe, who had a high finish of 19th at the Olympic Games last summer in the 200 IM, didn’t swim at the World Championships or the Commonwealth Games.
Others that have made “medical-related” withdrawals include Jordan Sloan, Conor Ferguson, and Molly Mayne.
Racing begins in Rome at the 2022 European Championships on Thursday, August 11.
Irish Roster for the 2022 European Aquatics Championships
TEAM LIST SWIMMING
|Victoria||Catterson||Ards ASC/National Centre Ulster|
|Ellie||McCartney||Ards ASC/National Centre Ulster|
|Shane||Ryan||National Aquatic Centre/National Centre Dublin|
|Darragh||Greene||Longford SC/National Centre Dublin|
|Robert||Powell||Athlone SC/National Centre Dublin|
|Finn||McGeever||Seal SC/National Centre Limerick|
|Eoin||Corby||Limerick SC/National Centre Limerick|
|Max||McCusker||Dolphin SC/Arizona State University|
|Liam||Custer||Sundays Well SC/Sarasota Sharks|
|Brendan||Hyland||Tallaght Swim Team/Nunawading SC|
|Mona||McSharry||Marlins ASC/University of Tennessee|
|Niamh||Coyne||Tallaght Swim Team/National Centre Dublin|
TEAM LIST DIVING
|Name||First Name||Date of birth||Club|
|Clare||Cryan||03/12/1993||Shamrock Diving Club/Sheffield Diving Club|
|Ciara||McGing||03/03/2001||Shamrock Diving Club/Ohio State University|
|Tanya||Watson||24/12/2001||Shamrock Diving Club/Southampton Diving Academy|