Ellen Keane enjoys return to Sheffield at GB Para Swimming International

By Mark Ashenden

Last Updated: 05/06/2018, 06:20 GMT

Ellen Keane
Ellen Keane's prize money didn't last long because of her generosity

After a gruelling few weeks of preparation, Ellen Keane headed to Sheffield feeling weary but buzzing to take on the challenge of facing the country's top Para swimmers.

The 23-year-old Sky Sports Scholar was put through the mill at the GB Para International, but it was the perfect test with the World Para European Championships in her home city of Dublin two months away.

Not even being forced to hand over her winnings to a team-mate could dampen her spirits!

"I was so excited to compete in my second World Series event of the season as I love the Ponds Forge pool.

It was the first pool I competed in when I made my first Irish team all those years ago. It's a fast pool and I usually swim well there.

The only downside to going was that I wasn't well rested. I knew it would be a difficult and tiring few days racing.

Finals and medals are based off the point system (how close you are to your world record from your classification) and there were a lot more countries in Sheffield than in Indianapolis so it was tough to make finals.

But I did! I swam 1 minute 23 secs in the 100m breaststroke which was a very decent unrested swim for me and I finished top SB8 overall.

Next was the 200m individual medley. This is always a very nerve-racking race for me - go out too fast and you risk dying in the last 100m, don't go out fast enough and you risk a slow swim.

I was aiming to hit 3 out of 4 of my target splits for the season which I did. I made the final and finished with a satisfactory second S9 overall.

Last race was the 100m butterfly. This season I've changed my style of fly changing from single arm fly to double arm fly.

The last time I raced double arm fly unrested was a very painful experience so I was a little apprehensive. The heat wasn't too painful but I wasn't satisfied with my time of 1 min 13 secs.

I managed to step up for the final through to finish in 1 min 11 secs which made me third S9 overall.

About 15 minutes after my fly final I got the opportunity to swim in a skins event. This event consists of eight swimmers racing 7x50m in 4 minutes.

The strokes are chosen at random and the swimmer with the least amount of points at the end of each 50m is eliminated. There's also a cash prize which gets higher the longer you stay in the event.

The swimmers are picked based off their 200m IM heat swim. Originally I didn't make the cut but after a few swimmers pulled out I got in.

I only lasted three rounds though thanks to the luck of the draw. The first 50m was backstroke which I'm decent enough at. The next 2 rounds however were freestyle - my weakest stroke.

I thought I'd be out after the first 50m freestyle but I somehow managed to cling on. When I saw the third round was freestyle again I knew I was doomed!

I did my best but it wasn't to be. I ended up winning £30 but earlier in the day I had made a bet with a team-mate that if he got a personal best I'd give him 40 per cent of my winnings!

Of course he did a massive PB so I ended up giving him the whole lot because of the great job he did!

I finished my World Series exhausted but satisfied and delighted that I got to see all my international friends too.