Swim Ireland have received a considerable boost ahead of this week’s Irish Open Swimming championships which will take place at the National Aquatic Centre in Dublin, with the news that Conor Ferguson has committed his long term future to Irish swimming.
The promising 17-year-old from Larne in Northern Ireland, just missed out on qualification for the Rio Olympics and had been the subject of speculation with regards to competing for Great Britain,
Ferguson earned a scholarship to Ellesmere College in Cheshire in the UK last year and the 2016 European junior championship silver medallist had been consistently linked with a switch to compete for GB.
However, having now come to an arrangement with the Swim Ireland, Ferguson, who will also compete in the four day Nationals at the NAC, will continue to compete for Ireland.
"We were struggling financially to support my decision to switch to swimming at Ellesmere College and I got in contact with Jon (Rudd), the new Irish High Performance Director” said Ferguson.
“I said to him that we need some support here and as a result Swim Ireland came up with the assurances I needed.
"Their (Swim Ireland’s) support has been great and because of that I’m going to stay with Ireland”
"My goal is to be Ireland’s first (male) Olympic swimming gold medallist and I will definitely now be staying with Ireland.
"It did take a lot of process and I met with representatives of British Swimming before I spoke to Jon. I also sat down with my Dad (Peter Ferguson) to talk about it, but it really came down to what I felt in my heart.
"I honestly can say that I’m Irish and that was part of the reason why I decided to stay with Swim Ireland who have given me a lot more than had I decided to swim for Great Britain.
Ferguson who will swim in the backstroke events and in the relays for his club Larne, will be one of the main focus of attention in the four day meeting which gets under way on Thursday morning at 9.45am
Nicholas Quinn, the Rio Olympian, will also be in action at the NAC; however Shane Ryan and Fiona Doyle, who also swam for Ireland in Brazil last year, will not be in Dublin this week.
Donegal’s Mona McSharry was recently just marginally off the qualification time for the senior World Championships is also in action at the NAC this week.
Larne’s Danielle Hill will also be planning to make a mark this weekend. The 17 year old became Ireland’s fastest ever female swimmer when she broke the 50m Freestyle Irish Record in March.
The event will see 400 swimmers from 72 clubs compete across four days of competition for national titles in 36 individual and 4 relay events and will be a last opportunity for qualification for international events this summer.
Ireland’s senior swimmers will be chasing consideration times for the 2017 World Championships in Budapest and the World University Games in Chinese Taipei.