Danielle Hill

SWIMMING: Golden Night in Belgrade as Hill is Crowned European Champion

21 Jun 2024
Sarah Stanley

Ireland has a new European Champion by the name of Danielle Hill following a showstopping performance on night four of the 2024 European Aquatics Championships in Belgrade, Serbia.

Hill etched her name into the Irish swimming history books with a gold-standard time of 27.73 in the Women’s 50 Backstroke Final. Hill’s gold medal is her first international medal and the first Irish female to strike gold in a senior European Championships (50m) in 27 years, it is also the first European Championship medal in a long-course pool since Shane Ryan’s bronze in 2018.

The Larne swimmer headed to the blocks as hot favourite coming through the rounds as top seed in both the heats and semi-final. As the start signal went off, Hill let go of the backstroke ledges the quickest with a reaction time of 0.51, holding onto the lead throughout as she blazed down the water for one length. Hill stopped the clock .14 of a second ahead of Greek swimmer Theodora Drakou to take the European crown.

Following her gold medal winning performance, Hill said: “That was goosebumps right there, I think it will take a while to sink but with five weeks out from Paris it is a really nice confidence boost for me. It was about ironing out anything that needed to be finalised ahead of Paris, it’s pretty nice.”

Hill added: “I’ve a full team at home who I know are a little bit late going into the session because they were all sitting watching me. Everything that Team Larne has created these past years hasn’t been one or two years, it’s been 12 years of hard work to get to this point. Peter (Larne Head Coach) can’t be here but it’s all down to his hard work, he is the man behind all this.”

On inspiring younger generations, she added: “I’m so proud, it’s probably the main reason I’m involved in swimming. Money, medals, whatever it is nice, if I can inspire a little kid, male or female, then that will be my job done in this sport.”

“The nerves are still there, I don’t really believe what I’ve done but I’ve a 100m Backstroke tomorrow, so unfortunately, I’ve got to pack this and see what we can do tomorrow morning.”

Eoin Corby was also in Finals action on Thursday, competing in the 200m Breaststroke, his first individual final in a senior international competition. Corby came home in 2:12.71 to place seventh in Europe.

Speaking following the final, Corby said: “Obviously I am really happy with that race, but I would have liked to be a small bit quicker and placed a small bit higher. I’m delighted to represent my country on an international stage like this. I was quite nervous before, I just tried to focus on the right things and do the best race I could. Like I said, it’s a huge honour so I was thinking about that and everyone at home, family, friends, and coaches, I just wanted to do them proud.”

Ellie McCartney put on yet another impressive performance in the 200m Breaststroke as she progressed from the semi-final to the final as fifth-fastest qualifier in a time of 2:26.76. McCartney shaved nearly a full two seconds off her personal best time of 2:28.63 that she set in the morning heat swim. McCartney will compete in her first senior international final in a 50-metre pool tomorrow at 6:13pm (IRL).

Following the race, McCartney said: “I’m definitely shocked, 200 Breast hasn’t been my focus this year, I think this is only the third gala I’ve swam it, to go 2:28 for the first time this morning to 2:26 now is something really special.”

Racing in the same semi-final leg, Niamh Coyne was back on the blocks for her second semi-final of the week. Coyne clocked 2:30.47 to place 12th overall.

Coyne said: “It’s not what I wanted it, I thought I could do a little bit better tonight. I’m back in the 50 breastroke on Saturday, the aim is to get a second swim, I’d be happy with myself if I could get three swims back in the breaststroke.”

Conor Ferguson advanced into the 50 Backstroke Final tomorrow evening with a seventh place, Ferguson went quicker than his morning swim (25.55) stopping the clock on 25.01 tonight. The 50m Backstroke Final will get underway at 6:54pm (IRL). 

Day five of seven will see Danielle Hill back in action, swimming in the 100m Backstroke, an event she recently achieved the Olympic Qualification Time in at the Irish Olympic Trials. Joining Hill in the same event will be Lottie Cullen. Eoin Corby will continue his busy week in Belgrade, this time featuring in the 50m Breaststroke, while Jack Cassin (200 Butterfly), Ellie McCartney (200 Medley), and Nathan Wiffen (1500) are all back in the pool.

At the Serbian Institute of Sport 1M Springboard Finalist Clare Cryan returns to the boards for the 3M Springboard Preliminaries.

In Rome at the Sette Colli International Meet, Paris qualified athletes Daniel Wiffen (400m Freestyle), Ellen Walshe (50m Butterfly) and Tom Fannon (50m Freestyle) will be in action as well as Victoria Catterson (200m Freestyle), Darragh Greene (100m Breaststroke) and Max McCusker (100m Butterfly).


Day 4 Results

Event Athlete Heat Time Heat Place Semi-Final Time Semi-Final Place Final Time Final Place
Men 200 Freestyle Evan Bailey 1:49.07 21st - - - -
  Cormac Rynn 1:50.57 34th - - - -
  Finn McGeever 1:51.39 37th - - - -
Men 50 Backstroke Conor Ferguson 25.55 12th 25.01 7th - -
Women 200 Breaststroke Ellie McCartney 2:28.63 5th 2:26.76 5th - -
  Niamh Coyne 2:29.29 10th 2:30.47 12th - -
Women 50 Backstroke Danielle Hill 27.98 1st 27.67 1st 27.73 1st
Men 200 Breaststroke Final Eoin Corby 2:13.74 10th 2:11.62 5th 2:12.71 7th

Day 5 Schedule

Event Athlete(s)
Men 50 Breaststroke Eoin Corby
Women 100 Backstroke Danielle Hill, Lottie Cullen
Men 200 Butterfly Jack Cassin
Women 200 Medley Ellie McCartney
Men 1500 Freestyle Nathan Wiffen
Women 3M Springboard Clare Cryan
Women 200 Breaststroke Final Ellie McCartney
Men 50m Backstroke Final Conor Ferguson


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Issued by Swim Ireland, whose Performance Programme is supported and funded by Sport Ireland & Sport Northern Ireland