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Hill makes big splash by taking Douglas' record

By David Kelly

It has been 12 months of hard work but Danielle Hill proved she is back firing on all cylinders when she broke the 15-year-old 50m freestyle record at the Dave McCullagh international meet in Bangor Aurora last night.

Irish swimming great Julie Douglas had set the previous best of 26.02 back in 2002 but Belfast teenager Hill hit the wall in 25.94 to set the new Irish senior mark. As she counts down to the Irish Championships in April and a shot at qualifying for the Worlds, it was just what she needed.

"This is my best meet in 12 months. I came in here with two focuses, the 50m free and 50m backstroke and I got two Irish senior records. To beat the record of Julie Douglas in the 50m free is phenomenal," said the 17-year-old Larne club swimmer.

"I just trust in my coach Peter Hill and his programme and it seems to work for me. Around this time last year I was suffering with shin splints and I was out of training for eight weeks after Christmas but thankfully I've had no illnesses or problems so I'm happy to be healthy.

"I can now go home and look to build on these performances. That wasn't a perfect race in the 50m free so I know I have things to work on. Along with my coach and gym coach, we've got nine weeks to work on getting ready for the Irish Championships.

"Hopefully I can qualify for the Worlds and then go there and get my time for the Commonwealth Games which are next April."

Hill's Larne clubmate Conor Brines was also in record-breaking form, the 21-year-old setting a new Irish senior best for the 100m butterfly of 53.34, beating the previous record of 53.59 held by Dubliner Brendan Hyland, who placed third last night.

Mona McSharry completed the breaststroke triple when she won gold in the 50m with a time of 31.56 and then took her gold medal haul to five with victory in the 200m individual medley in 2:19.31.

Curtis Coulter of Ards added 50m freestyle gold to his 100m title. Coulter held off Loughborough's Sam Irvine (23.63) to win in 23.29, while clubmate Victoria Catterson added the 400m free title to her 200m free gold.

Mia Davison, Scarlett Armstrong and Amelia Kane of Ards clocked consideration times for the European Youth Festival this summer, while Bangor's Jack McMillan, who won the 400m free gold, hit the time for the Commonwealth Youth Games.

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