McMahon and Nocher earn Olympic qualification in pool

Two more Irish competitors, 17-year-old Belfast swimmer Sycerika McMahon and 23-year-old Melanie Nocher, have qualified for the London Olympics at the European Swimming Championships inDebrecen, Hungary, taking Ireland’s tally to four.

McMahon also qualified for today’s final of the women’s 100m breaststroke, when she was ranked fifth after the semi-finals, and both she and Nocher will now join Grainne and Barry Murphy in London this summer.

McMahon, former junior European double gold medallist, surprisingly made the plane to London with a strong swim in the morning heats, where she broke her own Irish record, registering 1:08.37, 12-hundredths of a second inside the Olympic A qualifying standard.

Amazingly, in the second semi-final yesterday evening, McMahon, coached by Bobby Madine at the Leander club, finished second and registered exactly the same time as her heat swim.

“I was somewhat surprised to have gone under the time in the heats, but it was great to get it done so early in the week so I can now relax and enjoy the rest of the meet,” said McMahon.

“It’s hard to know what I can achieve in the final as there are a couple of very strong swimmers around me, but I’m there and all I can do is go for it.

Loughborough-based Nocher, who swam at the Beijing Games, finished fifth in the final of the women’s 200m backstroke in an Irish record time of 2.10.75, nine-hundredths of a second inside the A standard.

“When I hit the wall I was somewhat confused trying to scan the times, but when I saw what I had done I felt every emotion under the sun,” said Nocher.

“It’s great that all of our hard work has paid off.”

While there was elation for Nocher and McMahon, there was disappointment for Canadian-based Limerick swimmer Fiona Doyle, who was fifth in the semi-final of the 100m breaststroke and was placed 12th overall in 1.09.68, missing out on both Olympic qualification and today’s final.

Both McMahon and Nocher are back in action again today as McMahon goes in the heats of the 200m individual medley as well as the final of the 100m breaststroke, while Nocher will compete in the 100m backstroke heats.

Shani Stallard competes in the heats of the 200m individual medley, Karl Burdis is in the 50m backstroke heats and Nuala Murphy in the 800m freestyle


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