On day 1 of the 2012 Irish Olympic Trials on Wednesday (not to be confused with the British Trials that will soon kick off in the Olympic pool), there was a serious record scare by a teenage star in the making.
Note that at these trials, swimmers must hit Olympic “A” standards to qualify for the Irish roster, in addition to simply placing in the country’s top two. Those standards can be seen here.
This meet will also serve as the qualifying for the pre-Olympic European Long Course Championships – which is a significant developmental meet. European Championship qualifying marks can be seen here.
18-year old Grainne Murphy came within a touch of the Irish Record in the 200 free when she won in 2:00.02. That left her just .09 away from the 1997 record of the legendary three-time Olympic Champion Michelle Smith. Murphy is one of two Irish swimmers (along with Barry Murphy) to have been prequalified for the Olympics based on previous automatic swims – hers coming in the 800 free in Eindhoven late last year.
Though this time doesn’t earn an automatic entrance into the Olympics, she has surpassed the mark for the European Championships, and that’s nearly a four second drop off of her previous lifetime best done in January. If she can put a similar drop into her 400 free, she could take a run at a more legendary Michelle Smith Record – the 4:07.25 swum to win the 1996 Olympic title. That race will be swum on Friday.
In second was another young Irish swimmer: 16-year old Sycerika McMahon in 2:01.90. Those two are the foundation of a potentially good Irish 800 free relay for 2016, if they continue to develop in the way that they seem fit to.
McMahon made an interesting decision to swim the 50 breaststroke, though the 200 free semis, though a time drop in the 200 free would have put her in legitimate contention for the Olympics (she’d already qualified for Euros in the 200).
In the 200 free, which was without one of the country’s top male swimmers, Ryan Harrison in his best event, was won by 17-year old Brian O’Sullivan. His time of 1:53.55 was easily the best in the field. Harrison’s absence is peculiar. Though he was suspended from the University of Tennessee, where he competes collegiately, earlier this year, it was not believed to have affected his Olympic eligibility.
Harrison has already qualified for the World Championships team.