Donegal swimmers Anna Hennessy and Eoin Rooney brought home an impressive mix of medals from the European Down Syndrome Swimming Championships in Italy.
Anna, from Letterkenny and Eoin, from Ballyshannon were part of a seven-strong team of swimmers representing the Irish Down Syndrome Swimming Organisation (IDSSO) in Padova last week.
All the Irish athletes achieved their qualifying times to compete and had excellent results within a field of more than 17 countries.
Anna Hennessy took part in six individual events plus two relays (one being pulled due to an injury of one of the swimmers); 100m and 50m front crawl, 100m and 50m butterfly taking personal bests and also 100m and 50m backstroke.
With a personal best of 12 seconds in the 100 back, Anna qualified to the final of the 50m back, taking 6th place in Europe.
This was Eoin’s first long course international meet of such high standard. He competed individually in 50m frontcrawl, 50m back, 50m butterfly and 100m frontcrawl as well as the 4×100 mixed frontcrawl relay in which alongside Anna, Eoghan and Katie, they placed 5th.
Team Ireland was supported by Head Coach Niall Molloy, Sinead Donagher and Johanna Tilley-Rock. They also had superb parental support from Padraig Ashe, Martina Kennedy, Ann English, Kevin Hennessy and Annmarie Hogg.
Both Anna and Eoin are members of Nemo Special Olympics Swim Club. They both trained together in the lead up to the championships under coach Sinead Donagher, who is Eoin’s mother, at Finn Valley Leisure Centre. Anna is also a member of Swilly Seals and is also coached by her father Kevin during the holidays.
Admiration for both Donegal swimmers was supported by the notable sponsorship from Kelly’s Diner Mountaintop and Convergint who prepared the team with clothing/kit to represent their country at the European Championships.
“Anna and Eoin were overwhelmed with the support they received from Donegal which didn’t go unnoticed by the rest of the team,” said Sinead.
“They are both extremely proud of themselves and now continue to train in preparation for the World Down Syndrome Championships in Turkey 2024.”
A spokesperson from Swim Ireland added: “Head Coach Niall Molloy, Sinead Donagher and Johanna Tilley-Rock were the team coaches. Still, it could not have happened without an absolutely fantastic support team: Padraig (head of Irish delegation), Ann, Martina & Ciaran (Team Managers), Kevin & Ann- Maire (Medical support) and all those family members who came out to support the team. Well done team.”