Enniskillen girl Ellie has a big future, says Irish swimming legend Sharlene
Ellie McCartney may have just made a sensational impact at the Ulster Open long course swimming championships but she won't be able to seek glory at this week's Irish event - because she is too young!
The 12-year-old followed in the footsteps of some of the best swimmers to come from Northern Ireland when at the weekend in the Bangor Aurora she won the 200m and 100m breaststroke titles as well as bronze in the 50m breast. In addition to that, her time for the 200m breast, 2:39.88, meant she finished as the fastest 12-year-old in the UK.
Former British 200m breaststroke champion Sharlene Urry, head coach at Enniskillen 20 years ago and now coaching at Bangor, believes the young swimmer has a very bright future.
"Ellie is a joy to watch in the pool. She has a beautiful stroke and the way she came back from a body length down at the halfway mark to win the gold was fantastic," said Sharlene.
"For me she is a natural 200m breaststroker. I know she is very young and has a long way to go but I can see that she has a big future. All credit to the support she gets from her coach and her family."
Enniskillen girl Ellie says it was "a dream" to walk away with the 200m breast trophy and took time to pay tribute to her dad Terry and Canadian coach Rob Eynon, the head man at Enniskillen Lakelanders.
"I only got started in swimming because my dad forced me to join the club and I didn't enjoy it. But now I'm really loving it, you enjoy it more when you win trophies so I'm glad he did push me into it," said Ellie, a pupil at Enniskillen Royal Grammar School.
"It was really special to win the 200m breaststroke. I wasn't expecting it because I was up against Mia Davison and Zoe Thompson, who are really good swimmers. My coach Rob has been great.
"I do about eight and a half hours to 10 hours a week. Sometimes because of exams I have to cut down a session or two. It can be hard to balance everything. I play hockey and netball as well but I would like to go and swim at the next Commonwealth Youth Games."
As well as her recent senior success, Ellie also landed three golds at the Irish Age Group championships, winning the 200m and 100m breaststroke as well as the 200m individual medley.
Ellie is one of a bunch of young swimmers coming through who are showing good promise, such as 16-year-old Paddy Johnston of Ards who bagged three golds at the weekend and his 14-year-old clubmates Mia Davison and Amelia Kane. Amelia also struck gold when winning the 400m individual medley.
The Irish short course championships start in the Lagan Valley Leisureplex tomorrow morning with finals each evening until Sunday.
At yesterday's European short course championships in Copenhagen, Bangor's Jordan Sloan set a new Irish senior record in the 400m freestyle. Sloan touched in 10th overall with an impressive time of 3:43.21, breaking his own previous best.