Golden girl Bethany an inspiration for Barry's Games bid
Teenager Barry McClements will enter the pool at the Commonwealth Games this week hoping he can produce a performance similar to those served up by clubmate and Paralympic gold medallist Bethany Firth.
The 16-year-old, who trains alongside Bethany at Ards swimming club, is part of a strong Northern Ireland swimming team on the Gold Coast which includes another of his team-mates, James Brown.
Barry competes in the S9 category for those who have lost limbs and on Friday will bid to make the final of the 100m freestyle, while next week he shoots for a medal in the 100m backstroke.
Like so many at the Ards club, Barry has looked on in awe at the performances of Paralympic hero Bethany and now hopes he can create his own piece of history by bringing home a medal from the Games.
"Bethany has been a great inspiration to me. We train together, we're doing the same sets and it just makes you believe that if Bethany can do what she has done at the highest level then so can I," said Barry, who had his right leg amputated from the knee down at just 10-months-old.
"Winning gold medals at the London Paralympics as well as in Rio, Bethany is an inspiration to everyone in the club and I really believe that I can go and give it my very best.
"It's going to be really special being able to represent Northern Ireland at the Commonwealth Games. The Australians love their swimming so you know it's going to be a great atmosphere."
Training every morning under the guidance of Ards coaches Davy Johnston and Nelson Lindsay before attending Nendrum College in Comber, Barry admits that it is not easy combining his swimming with studies, particularly as his GCSEs will start just a couple of weeks after he returns from the Gold Coast.
"I have to work hard getting the balance right between training and school work but I think I am coping quite well. Because it's my GCSE year I've obviously had some extra work," added Barry.
"Everyone at my school has been very encouraging and when I was leaving all the teachers were wishing me well - as well as handing me plenty of work to do when I'm not competing!"
Barry, who won a trio of medals at the UK Schools Championships last summer, has already proved that he can compete with some of the very best in his category having won gold and silver medals in the Para World Series.
Now he has the opportunity to make a big splash for Northern Ireland and bring home a medal.