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Tuesday 20 February 2018

Swim champion Grainne hopes for gold in college points race

Paul Melia

THE last thing on teenage swimming sensation Grainne Murphy's mind today is her European Championship silver medal.

Like 55,000 other teenagers across the country, the 17-year old Wexford native is anxiously awaiting her Leaving Cert results, which will arrive on Wednesday.

But unlike many of her peers, she doesn't plan a big night out.

"I'm more excited about seeing all my friends," she told the Irish Independent yesterday. "It all depends on the results. I'll see how tired I am but will go and see the girls and see how they got on."

Yesterday saw the end of a wonderful week at the European Championships in Budapest for Grainne, who took the silver medal in the 1,500 metres on Saturday afternoon, setting a new Irish record.

"It was truly uplifting to witness Grainne's courageous performances throughout the week which have culminated in this well-deserved silver medal win in the 1,500 metres freestyle competition," President Mary McAleese said yesterday. "I wish Grainne every success at the beginning of what promises to be a very exciting swimming career."

Widely tipped as an Olympic hopeful for London 2012, Grainne came seventh in the 400 metres and was just pipped for the bronze in the 800 metres.

Messages of congratulations poured in from family and friends back home in Ballinaboola, Wexford, and Limerick where she lives and trains. She arrives home today at noon.

It was an incredible achievement for someone who only travelled to Budapest for the experience.

"I'm really happy with how the week went," she told the Irish Independent. "I only came over to get experience and do my best, hopefully improving my times."

She was so focused on her swimming that she didn't get a chance to celebrate her victory. "We didn't celebrate too much because I was quite tired. I saw my parents, had dinner and went to bed.

"My sister Niamh (21) lives in London and she was over here until Friday, so that was great. During the week I was racing and resting, so today was the first day I've got to go out. I've looked around the city and had some lunch but I've two weeks off and I'll go to Wexford and have a rest. I'm not going to do very much in the water -- it's a complete break."


Grainne's spectacular results didn't come out of the blue. When she was six years old she won a bronze medal at the community games. Daily trips to the pool became routine. In 2000, she was part of the New Ross swimming club team who won gold at the Community Games; the following year she won four golds as she represented St Joseph's School.

Her talent was obvious, and was nurtured by her parents Brendan and Mary.

Owners of the Horse and Hound hotel in Ballinaboola, when Grainne was 13 they decided to buy a house in Limerick so their daughter could attend Swim Ireland's high performance unit at the University of Limerick.

"She was always determined, very committed. She's very focused, when she wants to do something she does it 100pc," Mary said. "When the high-performance centre was set up she was eager to go. We said we'd try it for a year and she's still there.

"We're absolutely very proud. She was fairly relaxed, it was a new experience for her and she just wanted to achieve to the best of her ability. To make a final was a big thing. It's an amazing achievement for her. It was a bit mad yesterday. She's got two weeks back at home so that will be nice."

Grainne, the Irish Independent Young Sports Star of the Year 2009, trains from 5.20am to 9am, fitting in school before returning to the pool at 2pm until 5.30pm.

"All my friends back home are really supportive, they know I'm committed to my sport and I enjoy it. I fit my social life in around the swimming," she said.

"I hope to go to college and do a course and have a degree at the end of it. Swim Ireland has two high-performance centres in Dublin and Limerick so I've all the support I need. We've all the facilities and Limerick is a really good place for me to be."

See sport for more

Irish Independent

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