Ferguson and Hill shine at McCullagh Memorial meet

Larne Swimming Club's Conor Ferguson
Larne Swimming Club's Conor Ferguson

Larne Swimming Club’s Conor Ferguson and Danielle Hill were in top form at the Dave McCullagh Memorial meet held in Bangor’s Aurora at the weekend.

In what was the first Irish selection meet of the year, local swimmers entered looking for good, solid long course swims and, in some cases, qualification for this summer’s international meets.

Hill was chasing a time for the inaugural European Games in Baku at the end of June, while Ferguson was seeking selection for the European Youth Olympic Festival in Georgia in July.

Day one began with the 50 metres backstroke events for both Ferguson and Hill. And, as is becoming a habit, Ferguson broke his own Ulster junior record by almost half a second in the sprint, clocking a time of 26.32.

Not to be outdone, Hill eased her way into the finals of both the 50 BC and the 100 freestyle, with a new lifetime best in the frestyle event.

Erin Barr (12), competing in her first senior open meet, swam well in the 100 breaststroke along with Ellen O’Neill. Both swam just outside their personal best times.

The short backcrawl finals provided some fireworks with Ferguson and Hill posting faster times than in the heats. Ferguson broke the Irish junior record previously held by Karl Burgis.

Day two started as day one had finished with the pair confirming their qualification for the summer’s international meets. The record-breaking didn’t stop there either as they went on to set new Ulster and Irish junior records in the finals.

They were joined at the pool by Barr, O’Neill and Chloe McKay (another competing at her first open meet) who all swam the 200 BRS. Barr, showing she isn’t phased by the opposition, set a lifetime best to break three minutes for the first time.

On day three, Mark Doherty joined the Backstrokers for the 200 where Larne had a clean sweep of qualifiers for the finals.

Hill also competed in the 50 freestyle, setting a new Ulster junior mark.

Kendra Kemp also joined the party for the 50 BRS and along with Ellen O’Neill qualified for the evening’s finals.

Ferguson went on to smash his own Irish junior record in the 200 BC, while Hill broke the 50 FS record she had set that morning. It was also her third qualifying time for the European Games in June.

Over the course of the three days these young athletes set five international qualifying times and 18 records!