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Commonwealth Games: Relay team defy odds to shatter Ulster best

By Nigel Ringland

Northern Ireland’s swimming team led the way on the first day of competition in steamy Delhi yesterday.

One place in the final, two semi-finalists, four personal bests, an Ulster senior record and two Irish and Ulster junior records was the return.

It was the men’s 4x100m freestyle relay team that made their final finishing seventh in a new Ulster record senior time of 3:27.92 bettering their time of the morning heat, a terrific effort considering the quartet included two breaststrokers in Andrew Bree and Michael Dawson as well as Conor Leaney and an ill Ryan Harrison who has been suffering a recent bout of tonsillitis that forced him to fly to Delhi later than the rest of the team.

“It was a good first day, not bad for two breaststrokers and it was nice to get in there and race,” said Bree.

Fifteen-year-old Sycerika McMahon was the individual star with two personal best times that equated to two new Ulster and Irish junior records. Her time of 32.30, in a heat that included the great Leisel Jones of Australia, erased Fiona Doyle’s name from the record books and qualified her ninth for the semi-final of the 50m breaststroke.

The Portaferry schoolgirl couldn’t quite repeat that performance but she was just marginally slower at 32.42, sixth in her semi, tenth overall and just missed out on a place in the final.

Afterwards she said: “Really good experience and nice to be a part of it. Kind of gutted to be so close to the final but when you look back at it all it is about experience. Two PBs and Irish Junior records is a fantastic achievement.”

Earlier, in the heats of the 200m freestyle, her time of 2:02.08 ranked her 14th just behind Melanie Nocher who set herself up for the rest of the week with a new personal best of 2:01.57.

There was disappointment for Bangor’s Clare Dawson. The Bangor swimmer has been receiving injections and constant treatment on a back injury and her time of 2:02.39 was way outside her personal best.

Bethany Carson was thrilled with her Games debut as she made the semi-final of the 50m butterfly finishing 14th overall, her best time of 28.90 coming in the heats.

“I was delighted to make the semi-final especially as the competition is much tougher than I thought it was going to be. I was awfully nervous before hand but I just thought when I dived in to go for it,” said the 18 year-old from Lisburn.

She wasn’t quite as fast in the 200m individual medley finishing 11th overall in 2:21.89.

There were more chances to make semi-finals today with Nocher in the 100m backstroke, Bree in the 100m breaststroke and Harrison going in the 200m freestyle.

Meanwhile, Madeline Perry eased into the last 16 of the women’s squash with a comfortable three sets win over Sharya Guruge of Sri Lanka – 11-3, 11-7, 11-5.

Perry, the fourth seed from Banbridge, though was expected to find the going a little tougher today against Aussie Lisa Camilleri.

Northern Ireland’s other representative, Zoe Barr from Bangor, lost in straight sets to the ninth seed Low Wee Wern (Malaysia).

Belfast Telegraph

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