Taiwan crowd the inspiration for Brendan Hyland at World University Games

8 April 2017; Brendan Hyland of NCD, Tallaght, after winning the Men's 100m Butterfly Final during last years' Irish Open Swimming Championships at the National Aquatic Centre in Dublin. Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile

Taiwan played host to the 28th World University Games in August, an atmospheric event that won’t be forgotten anytime soon, according to Brendan Hyland.

The Games, which is the second largest multi-sport event behind the Olympics, saw competitors from every corner of the world come together, which included eight select DCU athletes chosen to represent Ireland over the course of the two weeks.

Swimmer Brendan Hyland, a 2nd year Accounting and Finance student, represented University and Country in four disciplines, including the 100m and 200m Butterfly and the 4×100 medley and freestyle relay.

Hyland spoke about the atmosphere created by the hosts including how athletes were mobbed for pictures, however he maintained that despite the distractions he was still there to swim.

“The whole city was just focused on being good hosts.

“At the end of the day, it was still just 10 lengths of the pool”, remembers Hyland.

Hyland’s first challenge in Taipei was with the 4x100m freestyle team.

The Irish team finished 4th in their heat, doing enough to snatch a place in the final, but being up against the best University students in the world was always going to prove a mountainous challenge.

Ireland finished the final in 7th place as the USA ran away with victory.

Later on in the week, he rejoined the team for the 4x100m medley relay, but Ireland narrowly missed out on 1st spot by 0.03 seconds in the heats, ending their medley medal dreams.

After a tedious wait, for the 2oom butterfly, the second year student finished the 6th and final heat in 3rd position, qualifying for the semi-final. Despite shaving a few milliseconds off his heat time, Hyland narrowly missed out on a place in the final.

Finally came the 100m Butterfly. Despite eclipsing his 200m heat result with a second place finish in his heat, Hyland fell just short of a semi final place, but in the end, swimming turned out to be the highlight of Team Ireland’s campaign in Taipei.

The crowning moment saw Shane Ryan, an Irish-American student qualifying for Ireland through his father, take gold in 50m backstroke. Ryan became the second Irishman ever to claim a swimming gold at the University Games.

But after two weeks, the DCU representatives came away with a newfound motivation and appreciation from one of their toughest challenges yet.

“When it’s getting to winter months, early mornings, I just remember the crowd and I remember what it felt like”, concludes Hyland.

Christy Dunne

Image Credit: Seb Daly/Sportsfile