The Irish men’s 4x200m freestyle relay team shattered seven minutes for the first time on Sunday afternoon placing sixth in the final at the FINA World Short Course Swimming Championships.
Taking place at the Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi, the championships are the 2021 World Swimming Final and the highlight of the short course (25m pool) season.
Jack McMillan, Jordan Sloan, Finn McGeever and Robbie Powell fell 21 seconds behind the Irish senior record to become the first Irish relay team to advance to a world championship final in 28 years. The quartet, who train at National Swim Ireland centers in Bangor, Dublin and Limerick, then lost three more seconds in that final to set the new standard at 6: 59.54.
Jack McMillan dived first in both sets, and his lap time in the final was 0.1 behind his senior Irish record in the 200 freestyle.
McMillan said: “My job is to get the team off to a good start, to give them confidence at the start. Going under the seven minutes was pretty cool. I was just having fun cheering on the boys, especially Robbie who brought him home there. It was great from everyone.
Next was Jordan Sloan, who trains with McMillan at Swim Ireland’s new Ulster National Center in Bangor.
He said: “Everyone has been stepping on it a bit from this morning. You can’t really ask for more and getting under seven minutes is pretty cool. Thought it would be a big hit after this morning as we were at 7:02 am 3, but doing 6:59 is pretty good and we’ll just build from there for the long haul.
Finn McGeever, of the Limerick National Center at the University of Limerick, has had a roller coaster year, setting his first senior Irish record in the 400m freestyle in April, then helping to set the senior Irish record for that event at the championships Europe Aquatics LEN in May, before making his Olympic debut – still in this event – at Tokyo 2020.
McGeever said, “I don’t know if I’m going to get used to it someday. It’s really cool to be in a world final. It’s also my first senior individual competition as I did the 400m freestyle so it’s brand new to me.
“In the race, I felt better than this morning and we all made progress. Like Jordan said, what more could you ask for.
The latest arrival was Robbie Powell, who trains at the National Center Dublin in the Sport Ireland National Aquatic Center and has been out of international competition since 2019.
Powell said, “This is my favorite position – I love going last. I’ve been doing it since a junior, on the strokes – I’ve always been the 100 freestyle. It’s been a long time for me so I’m happy to be back in that last position and enjoying it.
Speaking of the progression of the men’s 4x200m freestyle relay in Ireland, Powell added: “This will continue. It’s about training at this level. We turned it on for over three seconds from this morning, so what can we do with a few years, even a few months? It’s going to be cool to watch, and even be a part of it. “
Three of that team – McMillan, McGeever and Sloan – set a new senior Irish record in this event in the long course (50m) format at the LEN European Aquatic Championships in May – the performance earned Ireland their first place in a men’s Olympic swimming relay event, and first Olympic swimming relay of any kind in 49 years.
The next Irish final is on Monday afternoon as Sligo’s Mona McSharry set a fifth senior Irish record to finish third in the overall standings of the 100m breaststroke semi-finals.
McSharry said: “It was not the best organized race. I think the first 25 weren’t great and it was all over the place from that point on. Now the weather isn’t bad, that’s a good thing. I can improve myself and I hope the weather will drop again tomorrow.
Also on Sunday afternoon, Danielle Hill finished 13th in the semi-finals in the 50m backstroke, improving her playoff time to 27.17 to 26.88 – just 0.14 off her senior Irish record. It was his first semi-final at the championships and he has one event left, the 50m freestyle, which will start with a playoff Monday morning.
Monday morning’s playoffs will also feature silver medalist in the 400m individual medley Ellen Walshe in the 200m individual medley and 100m butterfly, relay star Jack McMillan in the 100m freestyle and the record holder. Irish senior Daniel Wiffen in the 1500m freestyle.
All the action can be followed via fina.org.
Men’s 4x200m Freestyle Relay – 7: 02.35
Jack McMillan, Robbie Powell, Finn McGeever, Jordan Sloan
Mona McSharry’s senior Irish record swims in Abu Dhabi
Semi-final 50m breaststroke – 29.65
50m breaststroke final – 29.59
100m Individual Medley – 59.65
100m Individual Medley – 59.35
100m breaststroke – 1: 04.22
Ellen Walshe’s senior Ireland record swims in Abu Dhabi
400m Individual Medley – 4: 30.78
400m Individual Medley Final – 4: 26.52
Sunday morning round results
50m backstroke – The first 16 go to the semi-final
Danielle Hill – 27.17 – 13th
50m butterfly – The first 16 go to the semi-finals
Calum Bain – 23.46 – 34th
100m breaststroke – The first 16 go to the semi-final
Niamh Coyne – 1: 06.44 – 18th
Mona McSharry – 1: 05.59 – 2nd
Men’s 4x200m Freestyle Relay – The first 8 go to the final
Jack McMillan, Jordan Sloan, Finn McGeever, Robbie Powell
– 7: 02.35 – 6th
Sunday afternoon results
Semi-final 50m backstroke – The first 8 go to the final
Danielle Hill – 26.88 – 14th
Semi-final 100m breaststroke – The first 8 go to the final
Mona McSharry – 1: 04.22 – 3rd
Men’s 4x200m Freestyle Relay Final
Jack McMillan, Jordan Sloan, Finn McGeever, Robbie Powell
– 6: 59.54 – 6th
Monday morning heat schedule – Starts at 5:30 a.m.
Ellen Walshe – 200m Individual Medley
Ellen Walshe – 100m butterfly
Jack McMillan – 100m Freestyle
Daniel Wiffen – 1500m freestyle
Tuesday morning playoff schedule – Starts at 5:30 a.m.
Mona McSharry & Niamh Coyne – 200m breaststroke