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McMahon could be Ireland’s best ever, says coach

By David Kelly

Sycerika McMahon is on course to become the finest swimmer the Emerald Isle has ever produced, according to Commonwealth Games coach, Nelson Lindsay.

McMahon added 200m freestyle silver on Saturday to her golds in the 50m breaststroke and 400m free at the European junior championships in Belgrade, completing an incredible week for the 16-year-old from Portaferry.

The teenager was once again in a thrilling encounter in the Tasmajdan Swimming Complex before losing out on gold by just a tenth of a second to Russian Ksenia Yuskova in the 200m freestlye final. McMahon clocked a new Irish junior record of 2:00.61, while Yuskova touched in 2:00.50 and bronze went to Esmee Vermeulen of the Netherlands in 2:01.22.

Top coach Lindsay, who brought through Andrew Bree among many other Irish champions, said: “The European junior championships are the gold standard for swimming and it is a reliable indicator that those who medal there go on to have a very successful senior career.

“I believe Sycerika has the potential to go on and be the best Irish swimmer ever. You would have to say that Grainne Murphy is going to do that over the next couple of years and of course, she won three golds at the European juniors two years ago.

“But when you consider just how good Sycerika is across a wide range of strokes, it tells you how good she is and how good she can become.

“The next couple of years will tell a lot about how far she can go, but although it is a big ask, I believe she can get to London 2012 and she will certainly be a medal contender at the Commonwealth Games in 2014.”

McMahon, who has taken European swimming by storm, can now be a role model for many more young swimmers, according to Ulster High Performance director, Andrew Reid.

He said: “For Sycerika to win a bronze last year in the 400m freestyle was fantastic and then to return this year and win gold was just amazing and gold as well in the 50m breast and silver in the 200m free — it shows everyone in Ulster swimming what is possible.

“I believe she is now a great role model. We have the 50m pool coming to Bangor and with a High Performance set-up there, I think it is going to be exciting times.”

The Irish boys relay team continued to rewrite the record books, setting another Irish junior best yesterday in the 4x100m medley relay. The team of Luke Campbell, Philip Duffy, Nicholas Quinn and Conor Turner clocked 4:01.63.

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