Ireland Top Medal Table at European U23 Swimming Championships

ByEmma Porter |

Mona McSharry in her final year competing as an Under 23, walks away with a hat-trick of gold medals after winning the 200m Breaststroke this evening, while Daniel Wiffen added another silver medal to the gold (1500m) and silver (400m) he won earlier, he also won best male performance. To close the weekend, in a stunning display across three days from the whole team and never been done before, Ireland has topped the final medal table at the LEN U23 European Swimming Championships.

Mona McSharry completes the hat-trick at the LEN Under 23 European Swimming Championships. Sligo’s McSharry opened tonight’s finals, like every night this weekend, with a stellar win in the Women’s 200m Breaststroke. The Tennessee swimmer set her intentions at the halfway mark by turning almost a full second ahead of the rest of the field, she powered home over the last 5 meters to win gold in a time of 2:25.49.

Speaking after her gold medal performance McSharry said, “Just unbelievable, I mean the crowd has been awesome every night and it was just super loud, I think that really pushed me and I just said that I have to do it for them, it was just amazing. It’s really tough, even having the mental strength to go out and fast and get to that level of burn and really, I was just pushed on by them (the crowd). I think it’s so different to seeing it in person compared to online, it’s great for young kids and athletes in Ireland to be able to watch this and see what they could get to.”

Daniel Wiffen collected his third medal of these championships in the 800m Freestyle, claiming silver in a time of 7:45.59. Wiffen, who is the current European Record Holder in this event started extremely well by staying in touch with his record pace. Ultimately, the final 300m caught up with the Armagh swimmer and he relinquished the lead to Germany’s Sven Schwarz who finished in 7:41.77.

Commenting on his race, Wiffen said “I’m very happy and, I mean I’ve had amazing year. I’ve achieved loads of PB’s. I’ve definitely put myself in the question for medals next year. I mean, it’s just been very successful and I’m very happy. I mean, it’s not nice to come in second, but I’m going to take a medal because, maybe disappointed in the long run but overall getting a medal in front of this crowd is amazing and I’m just very happy.’

Reflecting on the battle with his German opponent throughout the race, Wiffen said, “No, I mean, I went 7:39.19, I’m the European record holder for this season and you probably saw my splits come up on the board and I’ve been racing him for a long time and probably lot more to come and hopefully every other time I’ll come out on top of it. It was great. Well done to him.”

The Armagh swimmer had high praises for the performances of Team Ireland throughout the championships, commenting, “We’ve had one of the best meets ever in terms of Irish history and it was amazing to get Gold the first night, and two silvers, I’m not sure if we’re still on the top medal table, but we’re definitely up there and it’s great to put Ireland on the map.”

Ellen Walshe closed out her competition by finishing fourth in the final of the Women’s 50m Butterfly with a new personal best time of 26.64, narrowly missing a bronze medal by just 0.38 of a second. The Templeogue swimmer is coming out of these championships with two golds and a silver, an amazing feat considering she has only returned from the World Aquatics Championships in Japan. A competition where she achieved the qualification standard in the 200m Individual Medley for the Olympic Games in Paris next year.

Reflecting on the competition, Walshe said, “Yeah, it’s been a great meet. It’s so nice to have the home crowd here and to finish fourth in the 50m in a race I didn’t even think I’d get back into the final for, like I’m delighted. I’m delighted to get my Paris QT time out of the way and now I get a whole year to train, and it was nice to finish on a little fun meet, as me and Mona said, and it was just get up and see what we had left in the tank. So yeah, I’m delighted to finish fourth in the 50m tonight. And it obviously would’ve been nice to hop onto the podium, but it wasn’t there tonight. It’s savage (the support). I can’t thank everybody enough for coming out. Like we’ve never had anything like it. I want to say thanks to everyone that’s came out and supported me.”

Kilkenny’s Maria Godden returned to the pool this evening for her third final of the weekend, this time in the Women’s 200m Backstroke. Godden was in prime position to secure herself a bronze medal until fading in the last 50 meters, ultimately finishing in fourth place with a time of 2:14.77.

Reflecting on her race Godden said, “Yeah, to be honest, I’m tired after that, but as you said, fourth place, agonisingly close to the medals again. But look, it’s about learning from the experience, what I did wrong there, and I think Jade (assistant coach) said I went out in 1:04, which is where I need to be. It’s just about working on the backend speed. I’ve never raced this late into the season before. I’ve almost been going a year now. So, I’m looking forward to a bit of rest.”

Relishing the local support throughout the weekend, Godden commented, “It was amazing (the crowd), I’ve never ever experienced anything like this before, walking out to the call room, hearing everyone cheering for you. A special shout out to my friends from Kilkenny, from school who drove up to watch me today. So, I was delighted to make it in for a second swim, it would’ve been magical to get a medal, but sure luck. Hopefully better the next time. I was delighted with my 200m backstroke two weeks ago and that’s why it was bittersweet there I would have liked to replicate it, but I have a consideration time now for the World Championships, I never thought in a million years I’d get that. So just really looking forward to putting my head down, working really hard, and figuring out how I can be faster the next time.”

Grace Hodgins was also in action in the Women’s 1500m Freestyle tonight, putting on a brave performance finishing in ninth place overall with a time of 17:16.86.

Swim Ireland National Performance Director Jon Rudd was delighted with Team Ireland’s performance stating “A sensational three days of racing for this Irish Team which saw us lead the medal table from day one and secure the top position on the final day; it’s a wonderful thing to be able to say that Ireland are the European Under 23 Champions. A hat-trick of golds for Mona McSharry, alongside three-medal hauls for both Ellen Walshe and Daniel Wiffen is outstanding, and to win nine medals and feature in 16 finals indicates a depth to this young team that is incredibly exciting for the years ahead. Those finals also featured some agonising fourth spots too – fingernail biting closeness! We must also remember that some of our leading juniors from Northern Ireland were away at this time winning medals at the Commonwealth Youth Games, and had the calendar been kinder to us, we would have had an even stronger team present here in Dublin. I am very proud of these athletes, their coaches and the staff that have worked tirelessly for them at this Championships – a home Championships in front of an inspiring Irish crowd. Long may it last.”

Final Results Sunday 13th August 2023

F 200m Breaststroke Mona McSharry 2:25.49 (1)
F 50m Butterfly Ellen Walshe 26.64 (4)
F 1500m Freestyle Grace Hodgins 17:16.86 (9)
F 200m Backstroke Maria Godden 2:14.77 (4)
M 800m Freestyle Daniel Wiffen 7:45.59 (2)
Share this post
Share this post