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Sycerika inspiring others to make a splash

By David Kelly

Swim Ireland’s High Performance Director Peter Banks says teenage Olympian Sycerika McMahon is the ideal role model for every young Irish swimmer to follow.

Speaking after McMahon finished fifth in the final of the 100m breaststroke at the European senior championships in Debrecen, Hungary Banks praised the 17-year-old’s desire and dedication.

McMahon, the youngest ever Irish swimmer to compete in a European senior final, gave another eye-catching display when she came home in 1:08.72, less than a second away from a bronze medal.

“Sycerika has shown what can be achieved with the right dedication and commitment,” said Banks.

“For all her success she has stayed grounded and that comes herself but also the coach and Bobby Madine has clearly done a great job with her.

“For some athletes too much success too soon can go to their heads but Sycerika is always looking to do better and she may have been a little disappointed that she didn’t go quicker in the final but to produce three 1:08s in succession is top quality.

“She has the qualities that make her a very good role model for the young swimmers coming through.

“I’m not going to say this is going to become the norm but it’s great to see Grainne Murphy and Sycerika both medalling at the European juniors and then taking that into the seniors — that’s what we want to see from more of our swimmers.

“They have shown everybody that it is possible to make the highest standards and when you think about it, to qualify for the Olympics with a FINA A time means you have to be top five in Europe — I don’t think any other sport has demanded so much from their athletes and we have four going to London.”

The Leander teenager was “very pleased” to have finished fifth and is hoping to help the Irish qualify a 4x200m freestyle relay team at London 2012. McMahon, Melanie Nocher, Bethany Carson and Nuala Murphy will have to break the Irish record and get inside the time of 8:06.42 held by the Ukranian team, who are ranked 16 in the World.

McMahon said: “I’m very happy with my performance, I never thought coming here I would be in the final and to finish fifth is great.

“It’s just a privilege to be competing against the best swimmers in Europe and it makes me excited about competing at the Europeans next year.

“We’re excited about going into the relay and we’re going to give it our best and hopefully that will be enough.”

After qualifying for London in the 200m backstroke, Nocher was understandably outside her personal best in the 100m back, finishing 22nd overall in 1:03.42.

Dubliner Karl Burdis was 13th overall in the 50m backstroke in 25.78. Apart from competing in the women’s relay, Lisburn woman Carson competes in the 100m butterfly, while Fiona Doyle and Shani Stallard go in the 200m breaststroke.

Meanwhile, the host country had plenty to cheer about last night when when Laszlo Cseh — a runner-up to Michael Phelps at the last Olympics — took gold in the 200m individual medley in 1:56.66, while Gergo Kis (14:58.15min) and Gergely Gyurta (15:04.38) won silver and bronze in the men’s 1500m freestyle.

Germany’s World record holder Paul Biedermann was never really challenged in the 200m free and defended his 2010 European title with 1:46.27.

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