Diver Oliver Dingley and swimmer Ellen Keane have been named the 2016 Swim Ireland Athletes of the Year, the organization announced over the weekend. Swim Ireland is the governing body for all aquatic sports in Ireland.
Dingley became the first Irish diver in 68 years to qualify for the Olympic Games, and the first in history to final when he was 9th in the semi-finals of the 3 meter springboard, and then 8th in the final. Dingley, the country’s first international-caliber diver in a generation, won a Commonwealth Games bronze medal in 2014 while representing England, but has since changed his sporting citizenship to Irish.
Dingley’s performance builds momentum for the sport in Ireland. By way of his 8th-place finish on the 3-meter final, he qualifies to dive in the 2017 FINA Diving World Series, meaning that a diver will remain at least tangentially in the Irish consciousness for another year.
Keane, meanwhile, won her award after she completed her third Paralympic Games with a 100m breaststroke bronze medal in the SB8 classification – the first Paralympic medal of her career. She also finaled in the 100 back and 100 breaststroke.
The Swim Ireland Awards ceremony are usually held in May, where the previous year’s honorees are administered. In 2017, the event will be moved to November “to ensure (they) are in line with the swimming season.” These awards were given to 2016 athletes, who otherwise would’ve been bypassed as a result of the change in timing.
Watch a feature video on Ellen Keene below:
Other Award Winners:
- 16-year old Mona McSharry was named Junior Performance Athlete of the Year after winning silver in the 100 breaststroke and bronze in the 50 breaststroke at the 2016 European Junior Championships. She set Irish Records in the 100 and 200 meter breaststrokes, won 5 Irish national titles, and qualified for the European Senior Championships in May. There, she placed 26th in the 200 and 30th in the 100 breaststrokes.
- Oliver Dingley’s coach Damian Ball, the head of the Ireland National Performance Program, was named the 2016 Performance Coach of the Year. Ball left Southend Diving in 2014 to travel to Ireland with Dingley, citing his desire to coach at the Olympics.