The National Aquatic Centre welcomes over 500 athletes from 40 countries this week.
IT HAS BEEN a glorious summer for Irish sport, some achievements more unexpected than others, and Ireland’s swimmers will look to continue the success on home soil over the coming seven days.
From the women’s hockey team and their extraordinary World Cup odyssey, Thomas Barr’s brilliant bronze in Berlin and Shane Ryan’s breakthrough moment in the pool in Glasgow, there has been no shortage of sporting highlights in recent weeks.
And the hope is that the good times keep rolling this week, as eight Irish swimmers go in search of European glory on home soil as Dublin welcomes the 2018 European Paraswimming Championships to the National Aquatic Centre (NAC).
Over 500 athletes from 40 different countries have arrived in the capital in recent days for the biggest international competition to be staged at the NAC on the Sport Ireland National Sports Campus.
Following on from the success of Ireland’s Paralympians in Rio two summers ago, the next seven days present the athletes with a golden opportunity to not only bid for medals in front of their home fans, but showcase everything that is good about Paralympic sport to a wider audience.
Ellen Keane, 2016 Paralympic bronze medallist, fronts the Irish team for the championships and is the leading medal prospect, but the likes of James Scully and Nicole Turner are experienced swimmers capable of challenging the best in the world for medals.
Scully will be one of the first competitors in the pool on Monday morning, as the 200m freestyle S5 event gets the championship underway.
“I’m really looking forward to this event, I want to show everyone what I can do and, as a team, we really want to seize the opportunity to show everyone what we are capable of,” he said.
“We’ve never done this before, we’ve never had the chance to compete in front of our own and I think this is a great opportunity to inspire the next generation. If someone is sitting in the stands or watching at home and they see what we can do and realise themselves that they are capable of matching or even surpassing us, then it will all be worthwhile.”
Alongside Paralympians Keane, Scully, Ailbhe Kelly and Turner, the Irish team contains Patrick Flanagan, Barry McClements, Jonathan McGrath and Sean O’Riordan, with the home swimmers again inviting us all to broaden our senses and reconsider the way we view disabilities and disabled people.
“Hosting this event is a great boost to para sports in Ireland,” Paralympics Ireland president, John Fulham, says. “This is an opportunity to put para sports on a pedestal and to give young, budding Paralympians the opportunity to come and see their role models compete in person.
“I believe our squad of swimmers are a great combination of experience and potential that will give our country something to be really proud of this summer.”
The action at the NAC gets underway each morning at 10am with the heats followed by an evening session at 6pm, which will play host to the medal races.
TG4 will televise the heats live on all seven days while streaming the final sessions on its TG4 Player — but the best way to experience the European Paraswimming Championships in full is to be there in person.
Morning session tickets cost just €5 for adults, €3 for U16s and family tickets (two adults, two children) are priced at just €10, while evening tickets are set at €10 for adults, €3 for U16s and €20 for families.
Tickets are available to purchase online here, while a full schedule for the meet can be viewed here.
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