Posted: 4 days ago

I know Mary P will always have my corner, no matter what… Olympics bound swimmer Danielle Hill

Olympian Danielle Hill on the support of Lady Mary Peters, her Trust and the upcoming Paris Games 

LARNE swimmer Danielle Hill is thrilled to be heading to the Paris Olympics and not just to compete in her main event – the 100m backstroke – but also in the 50m freestyle.  

Danielle tells us: “Qualifying for the freestyle is a huge bonus and a massive positive for me. Building up to Paris is an incredibly busy time not just with training, but with interviews and meets and greets.  

“In terms of training and development, I’m preparing myself as best I can to face anything that comes my way in Paris. I’ve got it in my head to focus on a PB and then we’ll go from there.” 

It’s not the 25-year-old Ulster University graduate’s first Olympics, as she was part of the Ireland team at the re-scheduled Tokyo Olympic Games. 

“Tokyo really exceeded my expectations, and I was proud to be part of it all. I was surrounded by the very best sports people in the world – it was surreal. It was so cool and very inspiring. I probably took it a little for granted at the time but now looking back at that period I know I really appreciated it,” she said.  

Birmingham 2022 was Danielle’s third Commonwealth Games following Glasgow in 2014 and Australia’s Gold Coast Games in 2018 where she reached the 50m Freestyle final alongside Aussie star swimmers, sisters Cate and Bronte Campbell.  

One of Danielle’s proudest achievements is winning a bronze in the Mixed Relays at the 2015 Youth:Commonwealth Games. But her very first major medal success goes back to Year 8 at the Girls’ Model School when aged 11 she won gold at the British Championships in Sheffield: “My school was so proud and supportive – they played the video of me getting gold on school screens for six months after the competition!” 

Playing sport is a family tradition with Danielle’s dad coming from a running background and her elder sister Louise having been a competitive swimmer. “I started swimming age five at the old Grove Baths in North Belfast and began competing age nine,” she explained.  

At the 2022 Commonwealths, Danielle made three semis and two finals but was a little disappointed with her times. She made the 60m backstroke semi-final at the 2023 World Championships, but again felt she didn’t perform to the best of her ability.  

The European Short Course Championships in December 2023 was a chance to show her mettle and put her name back out there ahead of Paris. And she did, saying: “The competition took place in Romania and was a super experience. I walked away with 4th, 6th and 9th place respectively in the 50m backstroke, 100m backstroke and 50m front crawl.” 

The icing on the cake this year, of course, has been qualification for the two Olympic swimming events which she achieved at the Irish Open Championships in May.  And Danielle did it in style, as her time of 59.11 in the 100m backstroke meant she was the first Irish woman to break the one-minute barrier. 

A Mary Peters Trust athlete for over a decade, Danielle very much appreciates being part of the wider ‘Trust Family’.

Danielle insisis: “Throughout my whole swimming career, Lady Mary has been like a second family. She sends messages and emails of support and I know that, no matter what my results are, she will have my corner.  

“At the Commonwealths in Birmingham I got to see Mary and spend time with her – the first in a little while, which was so lovely. I know she’ll always be rooting for me.”