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Conor Ferguson eyes Olympics as Bethany Firth sets new world record

By David Kelly

Published 27/04/2016

Olympic mission: Conor Ferguson
Olympic mission: Conor Ferguson

Conor Ferguson will bid to become one of the youngest ever Irish swimmers to make it to an Olympics when he competes at the Irish long course championships in Dublin tomorrow.

Ferguson missed out on Rio at the Dave McCullagh meet in Bangor by just 0.29 seconds in the 100m backstroke but with the semi-finals and final of the event tomorrow and Friday, the 16-year-old is excited about the prospect of hitting the golden qualification time of 54.36.

"At the end of the race in the Dave McCullagh meet I didn't feel that I had swam well enough. I went out too hard, I was just too pumped up so since then I have worked hard with my sports psychologist," said Ferguson, who swims for Larne under the guidance of coach Peter Hill.

"Before the Dave McCullagh I was holding times around 59 seconds but this time I've actually hit times of around 56 so I feel even more confident going into the 100m back.

"I've got the heats and then the semis on Thursday and I'll be going for the time in the semis. Every opportunity I have I'll be going for it. There's the final on Friday and I'll still have the relay over the weekend."

Ferguson, sponsored by Funky Trunks, believes that his place at the Games will come down to how he mentally approaches the challenge tomorrow.

"I feel even stronger than when I competed in Bangor, I've done some great work in the gym," he added.

"It's going to come down to how my mind is, I can't focus too much on the time - I just have to focus on the fact that it's another race."

One woman on her way to Rio is Ards swimmer Bethany Firth, who will be competing for Team GB&NI.

Firth qualified for her third event in Rio when setting a new Paralympic world record of 2:03.70 in the 200m freestyle at the British trials in Glasgow.

Firth achieved the 100m breaststroke qualifying time on Saturday, and repeated the feat in the 100m backstroke on Sunday.

"When I get to Rio, I want to swim my best, show what I can do and make people proud," said Firth.

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