McCartney impresses at first European Championships

Ellie McCartney has shared her delight after making an impressive debut at the senior European Aquatics Championships in Belgrade over the weekend, reaching three finals.

The Enniskillen native, representing the National Centre (Limerick), finished eighth in both the 200m Breaststroke and 200m Individual Medley (IM) and was part of the Irish 4x100m Mixed Medley relay team that ended sixth in Europe.

But that was only half the story. From enduring scorching 31-degree heat to navigating a 20-minute thunderstorm delay precisely before her final swim – where she’d break her Ulster Senior record – it was a trip to remember for the 19-year-old.


“I’m very happy with the results, it was a bit of a tight turnaround coming from the Olympic trials, which was just three weeks ago,” reflected McCartney, after arriving home on Monday night.

“So I was going in seeing if I could improve on trials and I was lucky in that in my main events I was faster than I was a few weeks ago, so I can’t complain there.”

The venue was the same that McCartney competed at in the European Juniors last year – only this was held in the outdoor pool.
“It was interesting to be back and being familiar with the area was definitely an advantage for me,” she added.

“Coming in I was hoping to make a semi, I knew it’d be tight to make a final, but to come away with three I was ecstatic. I didn’t think I was going to make the 200-breast final. It was a bit of a surprise to me and my coach, a pleasant surprise, and the PB in it then was maybe the icing on the cake.”

McCartney’s campaign, began in the Women’s 100m Breaststroke Heats, finishing 19th overall at 1:09.53, just shy of her personal best.
Then in the Mixed 4×100 Medley Relay, she swam the freestyle leg as the team combined for a time of 3:56.11, earning them eighth place overall and a spot in the final.

There the quartet improved their time to secure sixth place with their time of 3:51.06, knocking five seconds off their morning performance.

The 200m Breaststroke followed, with McCartney qualifying for her first senior final with a massive personal best of 2:26.76 in Thursday’s Semi-Final, shaving two seconds off her heat time.


The following morning, McCartney competed in the 200m Individual Medley heat, advancing to the semi-final with a time of 2:16.66.
Then that evening, despite the tight schedule, she managed to maintain her form to qualify for a second individual final in 200m Medley.

Just 50 minutes later, McCartney was back on the blocks for her first European senior final in the 200m Breaststroke and placed eighth with a time of 2:28.68.

“I really swam out of my skin last night (Thursday), so I’ve got my head held high,” she told the media scrum.

“This is what we train for, we come to these big competitions to drop time like that and I’m happy to be able to do it on the occasion.”

McCartney then closed out her excellent week on Saturday evening with the 200m Individual Medley final, but not before the race was held up by lightning moments before McCartney was introduced to the large crowd.

Nonetheless, after a 20-minute thunderstorm break, she set a new personal best of 2:14.09 in the Final, breaking her Ulster Senior Record from the previous year.

“It was good to get a PB in the end after a long week in the pool,” said McCartney. “I wanted to prove a point that I’m not just a junior swimmer and that I can contribute to the team at a senior level, so to come away making three finals I can be satisfied, knowing I made that point.”

Looking ahead, McCartney concluded, “I’ll probably take a couple of days off now and then I’ll be back for Summer Nationals at the end of July and just have a couple of fun events to keep me ticking over for summer.”

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