Belfast Telegraph

Swimming: McMahon's fury as she misses top events at Worlds

By David Kelly

SYCERIKA McMahon has been left devastated after it was confirmed she will not be able to compete in her main events, the 50m and 100m breaststroke at the World championships in Barcelona next week.

McMahon, 18, believed she had qualified for the 50m breaststroke at last year's European Championships in Hungary where she picked up a silver medal in May but that date was outside the required timeframe demanded by world governing body FINA.

McMahon was expected to clock the A qualification mark between July 1 2012 and July 1 2013 but it seems she was unaware of such a requirement and nobody at Swim Ireland had informed her of the necessary timeframe.

In the meantime, World University Games medallist Fiona Doyle made the A time for Barcelona, which meant that both swimmers would have to have the A time in order to compete in the breaststroke events.

"I was under the impression I had already qualified and I hadn't swam breaststroke this year so I could concentrate on my training. The Irish nationals came within the qualifying period but I made the decision with my coach to use it as a training meet," McMahon told BBC Sport NI.

"They didn't tell me there and then when Fiona qualified. I was only told on July 6 so it was too late to try and go anywhere to qualify.

"Breaststroke is my best stroke. Two years ago I made a semi-final in the world championships in the 50m breaststroke when I was 16 and was 13th overall and that was a pretty big achievement because I was there, really just to gain experience and wasn't expecting anything.

"And so two years on I was expecting to do very well in this event because last year I won a silver medal in the European Long Course in May and a bronze in the Short Course in November so things were looking pretty good but as I say there's nothing I can do so I'll race my hardest in the individual medley and try and take the experience away from this event.

"However I would have really liked to have done the 50m breaststroke especially."

McMahon, informed of the decision by Swim Ireland High Performance Director Peter Banks, now fears that her funding will be cut if she doesn't make the semi-finals in either the 200m individual medley or 100m freestyle.

She added: "Obviously every athlete who is funded has targets to meet for their funding so because I haven't swam in any major events this year really apart from the European Short Course I'm at risk of having my funding cut.

"I supposed initially I found this very unfair because my target was to go out and swim the 50m and 100m breaststroke and hopefully make the semi-finals and who knows maybe a final in the 50m so if I don't get a second swim my funding will be cut."

That would be a big blow for McMahon as she prepares to base herself at the Texas A&M University where she will be on a scholarship.

Meanwhile, Ireland's Chris Bryan finished 16th at the FINA Open Water 10K World Championships in Barcelona.

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