Frustrated McMahon bids to make most of worlds despite time blunder

But for a mix-up, Sycerika McMahon could be in line to make a final at the swimming world championships in Barcelona next week.

The 18-year-old from Co. Down believed she had achieved the ‘A’ standard in the 50m and 100m breaststroke, respectively, following her success at the European Championships in May last year but has since found out that the times were recorded outside the specified 12-month qualification period for the worlds.

“It’s very, very frustrating; it’s kind of devastating, to be honest,” McMahon admitted. “I guess these things happen and you just have to deal with it and move on. I’m going out to do two different events and expecting to do the 200m medley and the 100m freestyle and we’ll see how it goes, and give everything.

“I had qualified back in May (2012) in the 50m and 100m breaststroke,” she added. “I did the FINA ‘A’ standard and I was the only one to qualify for that. I didn’t realise that the qualification period was between July 1, 2012 and July 1, 2013 so no one told me. All throughout the year, I thought ‘well I’ve already qualified, so there’s no point in swimming breaststroke at Irish Nationals’. So I just posted some times in events that I don’t normally do. Unfortunately a week and a half or two weeks ago, I got a phone call saying ‘sorry, you can’t swim your events because you didn’t qualify within a certain timeframe’.

“I was informed of this on July 6 so it was too late to do anything about it. If I was informed at nationals, I could have had an opportunity to go elsewhere and qualify. I mean, the time for the 50m breaststroke wasn’t exactly that hard to post for the ‘A’ standard but what can you do?”

Swim Ireland High Performance Director Peter Banks accepts that some of the blame for the mix-up must fall at his door. “Maybe we should have made it a little bit clearer, it was the same regulations as it was last year for the Olympics,” he said. “The same sort of thing, but maybe it was a misunderstanding on our part. But it was a learning experience and we’ll make sure it doesn’t happen again and they’re very aware of it.”

There were some fears that if McMahon fails to make a semi-final in the 100m or 200m individual medley or 200m freestyle — not her favoured events — that she could lose her funding, but Banks insisted that Swim Ireland is fully committed to guiding the Portaferry girl to the 2016 Olympics in Rio.

“Funding is based on potential,” Banks said. “We look at potential. We don’t look at one performance, we look at what athletes we have in the programme, what their potential is for the next three years and Sycerika is a potential.”

Fiona Doyle, who won a silver medal in the 100m breaststroke at the World University Games in Russia two weeks ago, did reach the ‘A’ standard for Barcelona and will compete in the 50m, 100m, and 200m breaststroke.


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