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Brines continues to raise the bar as he targets Commonwealths

By David Kelly

Conor Brines has turned his swimming career on its head and just seems to be getting better and better.

The Queen's University student had been known as a solid Ulster performer before he engaged in a gap year after completing his A-levels. But in the two years that have followed he has gone from the fringe to the top of Irish swimming.

Brines will compete at the Ulster Short Course Championships this weekend having just returned home from the Scottish Championships, where he clocked two Irish senior records.

The Larne club swimmer took gold in the 50m butterfly in 23.38, equalling the Irish best of European medallist Barry Murphy, and claimed the Irish record for the 100m butterfly when taking bronze in 52.76.

Brines was part of a highly successful Scottish Championships for Ulster swimmers as young Jack McMillan of Bangor clocked a new Irish junior record of 3:50.42 to win silver in the 400m freestyle, while Danielle Hill - a clubmate of Brines - set a new Irish senior record for the 50m freestyle (25.64).

Brines is now hoping that he can maintain his progression and compete at the World University Games next summer and the Commonwealth Games 12 months later.

"My club coach and my strength and conditioning coach Steven McQuillan and I have set the World University Games as the main goal for next year and at that meet I want to get the time for the Commonwealths," said Brines.

"It's a big goal for me and it would mean an awful lot to get there.

"I always felt that I had the ability but it wasn't until during my gap year when I went travelling and ended up in Canada at a couple of swim clubs that I really got the drive to want to do well at the sport. I just wanted to do something that meant something rather than just partying.

"I realised that swimming gave me that opportunity and I came home and really dedicated myself.

"So now it's just university and swimming full-time and it's going quite well so we'll see where it leads to."

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