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John swims to masters glory

SHANNON-born swimmer John Cunningham was again a gold medallist at the FINA World Masters Swimming Championships, held in Riccione, Italy, in June.
John was taking part in the 40-44 age group and successfully defended his 100m butterfly title, while he also took the gold in the 50m butterfly race.
Speaking to The Clare Champion on Wednesday, John, who lives near Potters Barn in Hertfordshire, close to London, said he is very pleased with the performances.
“I defended the 100m and won the 50m so I was pretty pleased with that. The performances were quite good, not as quick as two years ago but maybe the years are catching up,” he joked.
John said he was given an awful lot of confidence after winning the 50m gold. “After that, I went in with a lot of confidence and I really felt that I could control the event and I did.”
He said he won the 100m by a full second, which is quite a substantial margin for the event, but the 50m came down to just four-hundredths of a second.
A lot of hard graft goes into preparing for his events. “It’s quite tough, especially having a job and a family as well. It’s quite concentrated. I’d give about three hours in the pool a week and five hours in the gym too. As it builds up to an event, I have to get more in.”
When he’s out of competition, he said he keeps “ticking over”.
John was a highly competitive swimmer as a youngster but drifted away from it over the years, before getting back into it as a masters competitor.
“I had been trying to qualify for the 1992 Olympics but then I would have stopped for about 10 years before I got back into it later on,” he said.
As well as winning the medals, John set a new Irish record of 31.26s in the 50m breaststroke, which is a new event for him. He came seventh in his warm-up event, the 100m freestyle in a time of 56.26s.
John also competed in two mixed relays with the Limerick Masters. The team, which also included John Reilly, Michelle Mulcahy and Sandra Byrne, set Irish records in both the medley and freestyle relays.
John, who is a past pupil of St John’s National School, is just about to turn 42 and has been based in England for many years but still makes a lot of trips home. “I’ve been here since I was 18 but my mum is still in Shannon so I’d go back and forth a good bit,” he concluded.


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