THE open water swimming events kicked off last week’s LEN European swimming championships in Budapest with Chris Bryan from Shannon being Ireland’s first competitor into the action at the picturesque location of Lake Balaton, south-west of the Hungarian capital.
Bryan, a member of Ennis Swimming and Lifesaving Club, qualified to compete in both the 10km and 5km events, while his team-mate, Andrew Meegan from Dublin, participated in the latter only. Bryan was also the first ever Irish competitor to swim in an open water event at a European championship and this was his first time competing in any major championship.
The 10km event was a mass start whereas the 5km event was run as a time trial with swimmers starting at one-minute intervals. The Ennis Swimming Club swimmer learned just how competitive and tough it can be at this level where literally anything goes when part of a bunched field in open water. He settled into the middle of the lead pack for the first 5km lap and was still holding approximately 16th position at the 8km point. However, his inexperience showed during this phase of the race when attempts to improve his position were blocked by swimmers on several occasions. His eagerness to improve his position at this point ultimately resulted in wasted energy which cost him later when the final push for the finish came. He acquitted himself well in the end with a 32nd place finish in two hours and one minute and has gained valuable experience for the coming season. The European title was won by five times world champion, Thomas Lurz of Germany.
Chris went on to cap a successful debut at these championships the following day when he did well to recover from his exertions in the 10km and put in a great effort to finish in 27th place in the 5km open water event. His Irish team colleague, Andrew, finished in 32nd place overall. Italian swimmers took all three podium placings in this event.
Bryan returned to domestic competition at the weekend when he won the National 5km Open Water Championship. The event was held across Dublin Bay starting at Windsurfer’s Pier, Monkstown, Dun Laoghaire and finishing at the South Wall near Poolbeg Power Station. He finished in one hour five minutes and was more than 12 minutes ahead of the second-placed swimmer. He will take part next weekend in the Scottish leg of the high-profile Great British Swim Series over the one-mile distance, which takes place outside Glasgow.