Belfast Telegraph

Sycerika McMahon’s frustration sums up fortune of Northern Ireland’s swimmers

By Nik Simon

Sycerika McMahon crashed out in the semi-finals of the women’s 100m breaststroke final in Glasgow as Northern Ireland’s biggest swimming medal hope suffered more disappointment.

The Portaferry Olympian finished sixth in her race last night, registering a time of 1:09.41, having been frustrated with her performances in the morning session at Tollcross.

McMahon was 13th fastest overall and therefore failed to make it into the final.

Coming into the Games with high hopes of making a medal race, things have not gone as she would have planned in Glasgow.

Michael Dawson was also in semi-final action in the men’s 50m backstroke, but finished sixth with a time of 28.87 seconds, missing out on a place in today’s final.

Earlier in the day, the Ards swimmer registered his fastest time since the outlaw of bodysuits, missing out on a new personal best by just three hundredths of a second.

“I’m really happy to have swam that fast in the morning and there were a few mistakes in there as well, so I'm hopeful I can go faster,” said Dawson before his semi-final. “We're doing fantasti

cally well, we have a very young team out here and it’s brilliant to get back for a second swim.”

Bethany Firth continued to enjoy her debut competition swimming alongside able-bodied athletes, finishing 26th overall in the women’s 100m freestyle with a time of 59:24.

The 18-year-old from County Down, who suffers from learning difficulties that cause short-term memory loss, said the experience would provide her with a huge boost when she returns to Paralympic action with Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

“I am loving this experience but it's much different to what I've been used to,” said Firth.

“I haven't raced against these girls before but I hope to bring what I've learnt into the Paralympics. The main difference is that a lot of these girls have been here before and they know what they're doing because they've been doing it for years.”

Also in the morning session at Tollcross, Chris Coulter finished 21st overall in the heats for the men’s 100m butterfly, while 14-year-old prospect Danielle Hill continued to benefit from her experience among the seniors with a 14th placed finish in the heats of the women’s 200m backstroke.

Fortunes for Northern Ireland were not much better in the Saturday session.

Jordan Sloan and Coulter both missed out on the finals of the men’s 50m backstroke and 100m freestyle respectively; with David Thompson and Conor Munn failing to qualify from the heats.

Another youngster, 15-year-old Gemma Kane of Bangor, set a new personal best in the women’s 50m butterfly, finishing in 20th place, two places ahead of Northern Ireland team-mate Firth.

There was also more frustration for McMahon, who finished 12th in the women’s 200m breaststroke.

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