February 26, 2023

The 2023 McCullagh International came to an end tonight after three days of thrilling racing at the Bangor Aurora Complex in Co. Down. The event hosted over 450 swimmers from 80 clubs over the course of the weekend.

The final national relay titles of the weekend were up for grabs this morning with the Men’s 4x100m Medley Relay first up. A Limerick team of Finn McGeever, Eoin Corby, Denis O’Brien, and Daragh Horgan clocked a combined time of 4:01.36 to take the national gold. Ards (Adam Barnes, Matthew Hand, Charlie Eatwell, Ben Riddell) claimed their third men’s relay medal of the competition, this time it was silver coming in at 4:02.01. Third place and the national bronze was Dolphin, Jack Cassin, Noah Switzer, Ewan Fane, and Neddie Irwin finishing in 4:03.13.

In the Women’s 4x100m Medley, Ards claimed their second relay gold of the weekend as Victoria Catterson, Grace Davison, Ellie McCartney, and Keira Aiken recorded 4:21.09 to finish in first place. Scotland North (4:28.71) claimed a commemorative silver, while the national silver went to Jessika Robson, Ava McNamara, Toni Jamison, and Aimee Dawson of Lisburn (4:37.96). It was another national relay bronze for Dolphin, as the women’s team (Izzy McGrath, Lexi Dunne, Heather Fane, Hannah O’Shea) finished in 4:38.23.

The Men’s 400m Freestyle got the evening finals underway with a strong field battling it out for podium places. There was very little between National Centre (Limerick) swimmers Finn McGeever and Jeremy Bagshaw as they went into the last 50 metres, Bagshaw (3:58.74) would come out on top by just .56 seconds to claim gold, with Olympian McGeever clocking 3:58.18. Joining them on the podium was Nathan Wiffen of Larne clocking 4:01.70.

Up next was the Women’s 400m Freestyle, National Centre (Ulster) swimmer Victoria Catterson and Trojan’s Grace Hodgins went stroke for stroke in a thrilling race, it would be Catterson who had the edge this time touching in 4:18.99, Hodgins added silver to her two golds this weekend finishing in 4:19.26. Her Trojan teammate Rebekah Friel finished in third place taking bronze in 4:25.75.

The evening moved onto the sprint events with the Men’s 50m Freestyle, There was just .26 seconds separating National Centre (Dublin) swimmers Calum Bain (Cookstown) and Tom Fannon (Laser) with Fannon touching first (22.73) to win gold, Bain clocked 22.99 in second, while visitor Ethan Chauliaguet (23.33) will take bronze back to his French club Aqua Club Pontault Roissy.

In the women’s event Ireland’s fastest female swimmer Danielle Hill (Larne) was the winner touching the wall in 25.61, Erin Riordan (NAC/National Centre Dublin) finished second place with 26.21, with Grace Davison (Ards/National Centre Ulster) adding a bronze to her weekend medal haul (26.45).

Up next was the Men’s 50m Breaststroke, Eoin Corby of National Centre (Limerick) proved to be the strongest of his competitors clocking 28.45 to touch first. Liam O’Connor (Terenure) touched second with 29.50 and third place was claimed by Adam Metcalf (29.56) of Loughborough.

Eimear Doyle (Limerick/National Centre Limerick) came out on top in the Women’s 50m Breaststroke clocking 33.22, it would be a tie for silver with Nula Gow (Scotland North) and Isabel Kidney (Sunday Wells) both touching in 33.26.

Moving onto the Men’s 200m Backstroke, John Shortt (Bluefin/National Centre Limerick), who was fastest qualifier from this morning, carried his good form into tonight’s final finishing first in a time of 2:04.42. Brandon Biss of Swim Belfast would join Shortt on the podium in second position following his time of 2:07.01. Bronze went to Emmett Cousins (New Ross) who recorded 2:09.72. In the women’s event, Maria Godden of National Centre Limerick and Kilkenny came out on top clocking 2:14.71 to bag gold, Natasha Whittall (Loughborough) was next home with 2:20.42 while third place went to Cora Rooney (2:21.56) of Enniskillen.

Maisie Elliott (Loughborough) touched the wall first in a time of 1:02.00 in the Women’s 100m Butterfly, Alana Atkin-Burns finished just .13 seconds behind to claim the silver medal, while the third and final spot on the podium went to Sharon Semichy (1:03.61) of Sunday Wells.

Jack Cassin (Dolphin/National Centre Limerick) and Evan Bailey (New Ross) served up a thrilling race in the Men’s 100m Butterfly Cassin touching first (55.22) ahead of second placed Bailey (55.45), Dylan Registe of Lisburn came home in third place in a time of 56.79.

The Men’s 200m Individual Medley gold went to National Centre (Limerick) Eoin Corby, who crusied home in first place in a time of 2:07.66, Corby finished off a busy weekend ahead of the 2023 Irish Open in April. Lachey Reed (Bangor) claimed silver in a time of 2:10.84 with third place going to Matthew Hand (2:11.33) of Ards.

The final event of the 2023 McCullagh International was the Women’s 200m Individual Medley, with Olympian Ellen Walshe (Templeogue) claiming gold in an outstanding time of 2:12.48, close to beating her own Irish Senior Record (2:12.02). A repeat of that performance at the Irish Open in April, will ensure Walshe consideration for the World Championships in July, the qualification time for that event sitting at 2:12.98. Ards claimed the second and third spot on the podium as Ellie McCartney (2:15.81) bagged silver and Grace Davison (2:17.93) took home the bronze medal.

Attention now turns to the 2023 Irish Open which takes place in the Sport Ireland National Aquatic Centre, 1st-5th April.