Swimming: Murphy proves she can mix it with the big guns
GRAINNE MURPHY bridged the sizeable gap between golden junior and top senior swimmer yesterday, arguably like no other Irish swimmer before.
Murphy's seventh-place finish in the 400m individual medley, in a time of 4:43.45, at the European long course championships in Budapest was an outstanding performance from the 17- year-old – who last summer claimed three gold medals and a bronze at the European junior championships.
The 400m IM is one the most demanding events, but Murphy displayed great physical and mental strength for someone so young on the opening day of the championships.
Such was her performance in the morning heats, clocking 4:41.80 to finish fifth fastest for the final, she was a little disappointed not to have at least matched that time in the evening. Gold went to Britain's Hannah Miley in a new championship record of 4:33.09, holding off home-town favourite Katinka Hosszu of Hungary, 4:36.43, in the final 50m.
“It’s a really good experience being out here and to be racing against World and European champions and to be in a final with them is a great achievement,”
Murphy said. “Maybe I would have liked to have gone a little bit faster, but there’s always positives to think about. My technique was very good and I was strong on all four strokes.”
Ireland's Performance Director Peter Banks was delighted with Murphy's performance and hopes it sets the tone for the rest of the campaign this week.
“Swim Ireland hasn't had a finalist at the European long course championships for over a decade so this was just a fantastic performance from Grainne,”
Banks said. “To step up from the juniors and produce this kind of performance is special.
“She could have gone quicker but, all things considered, it was a great effort and it will stand to her for the rest of the meet. It's great for the whole team to have a performance like that and it shows again the potential that Grainne has.”
There was disappointment for 2008 Olympian Melanie Nocher who had been hoping to make the final of the 200m backstroke – her main event – but she was 13th overall in last night's semifinal.
Most annoying for Nocher was the fact her time of 2:13.32 was a huge one and a half seconds slower than the Irish record time she set at the Irish Open championships last month.
Ryan Harrison was 24th overall in the 400m freestyle in 3:56.71, while in the 100m breaststroke Barry Murphy was 35th in 1:02.43 and Andrew Bree 43rd in 1:03.22. Their main events are later in the week.
Harrison returns to the water today in the 200m free, while Bree is in the 200m IM and Clare Dawson goes in the 100m free.