Ferguson Smashes 200m Backstroke Record

Conor Ferguson became the first Irish Junior to break the 2 minute barrier in the 200m Backstroke on the first night of competition at the Irish Short Course (25m) National Championships in Lisburn. Ferguson had set the current junior record of 2:00.55 just two weeks ago at the Ulster SC Championships and the 15 year old took over a second off that time touching in 1:59.19 to win the national title. He also became the fastest Ulsterman ever in the event.

Antoinette Neamt cruised to 800m Freestyle Gold in the night's first event. The 13 year old swam a lifetime best 8:35.68, just .44 of a second off Grainne Murphy's Irish Junior Record from 2009. Neamts teammate at the Swim Ireland NAC Performance Centre Therese Corry took Silver in 8:55.18.

Bethany Carson was in impressive form and looked to be completely recovered from her broken ankle at the start of the year. Carson, who lives and trains at the National Sports Campus in Dublin, swam a personal best of 2:14.50 winning Gold in the 200m Individual Medley. Just 10 minutes later she was back in the pool to claim a second Gold in the 100m Freestyle with a time of 55.89.

Jamie Graham of Bangor picked up his first medal of the championships in the 50m Freestyle clocking a time of 22.89, the 21 year old then went on to win 50m Breaststroke Gold in 28.13 ahead of Sean O'Brien (29.63) and Emmet Crowley (29.82)

Dearbhail McNamara and Niamh Kilgallen picked up where they left off last year with a 100m Breaststroke Final that had the crowd on their feet. While Kilgallen collected the title in 2013, it was McNamara who won tonight's final in 1:11.03, Kilgallen was right behind in 1:11.07. Both will also swim the 50m and 200m Breaststroke over the weekend.

Bernard Cahill and Brendan Gibbons swam a fantastic 400m Freestyle Final, only three hundredths of a second separated the two, but it was Cahill from Ennis who got the first touch in 3:51.54 with Gibbons agonisingly close in 3:51.57.

In Friday's Butterfly events Claremorris swimmer Sarah Kelly claimed the national title in the women's 200m event while Brendan Hyland was the Gold medallist in the men's 100m Final.

The night's closest race went to Emma Cassidy and Kate Kavanagh in the 50m Backstroke Final. For the second year running Cassidy won the title, her time of 29.63 held off Kavanagh (29.64) of Galway by one hundredth of a second while Danielle Hill claimed Bronze in 29.73.

Following a Silver medal in the 100m Butterfly Galway's Cian Duffy championed his way to Gold in the 100m Individual Medley. Duffy, who had won Bronze in the event in 2013, held off Longford's Gerry Quinn (56.97) and Alan Corby (57.75) clocking 56.78.

The final event of the night saw Galway women (4:21.89) and Ards men win the 4x100m Medley Team Relays.