by John Kenny
Ireland’s Melanie Nocher broke the Irish 100m backstroke record twice in one day at the European Short Course swimming championships at Szczecin in Poland.
The Ards swimmer put the disappointment of not qualifying for the Olympics at the Dutch Nationals last weekend behind her by reaching the semi-finals of the women’s 100m backstroke, but failed to advance to the final.
Nocher was tenth fastest after the heats in a time of 59.37 seconds, breaking the Irish record set by Aisling Cooney in 2009 by 0.51sec.
In the semi-final, Nocher again broke the Irish record on her way to a time of 59.30, but it was only good enough for 15th place overall.
Grainne Murphy failed to make the finals of the women’s 200m butterfly and the 200m individual medley, but she did break her own Irish record in the latter event when she clocked 2:12.71.
Murphy’s main event - the 800m freestyle - is on Friday, while the 18-year-old Wexford native will also be looking to make the finals of the 400m freestyle and 400m individual medley over the weekend, two events in which she took bronze medals at last year’s championships in Eindhoven.
Aisling Cooney is also in action in the women’s 50m butterfly, while Clare Dawson will join Murphy in the heats of the 800m freestyle.
Shani Stallard competes in the 200m breaststroke, while Ireland will also have a squad competing in the heats of the women’s 4x50m freestyle relay.
Also in the 100m backstroke, Kilkenny’s Jane Roberts produced a fantastic display to set a new Irish junior record time of 1:02.29.
Roberts, who competed for Ireland at the European Junior Swimming Championships during the summer, also swam strongly in the 100m freestyle, finishing in a time of 57.70, a new personal best.
Bethany Carson, who trains at the High Performance Centre at the NAC in Dublin, set a new personal best time in the heats of the 100m freestyle (55.91), finishing just ahead of Dawson (56.09), though neither progressed beyond the heats.
Irish duo Nicholas Quinn (Castlebar SC) and Dan Sweeney (Sunday’s Well SC) also performed strongly, both setting personal times of 1:02.95 and 1:03.23 respectively in the men’s 100m breaststroke.