Ireland’s swim team are relaxing today ahead of day one of competition tomorrow at the World long course Swimming Championships in Shanghai, China. The first of the two Irish swimmers in action in the pool tomorrow is sixteen year-old Sycerika McMahon from Portaferry, Co. Down, who competes in the 400m freestyle. Also racing on day one is Dubliner Barry Murphy who features in the men’s 100m breaststroke. There are two changes to the original Irish team racing schedule for the first day of competition; Gráinne Murphy has withdrawn from the 200m individual medley and Sycerika McMahon has withdrawn from the 100m butterfly.
This meet, a biannual showcase of the world’s top swimmers is an Olympic competition for Irish swimmers, with the qualification period having begun on 1st March this year, ending on 31st May 2012 inclusive. Swim Ireland’s selection policy for the 2012 Olympic Games (pool swimmers only) states that all qualifying swims be completed at FINA recognised qualifying competitions only and must meet with the approval of the Swim Ireland High Performance Director and must be nominated on or before 31st January 2012.
Under the same policy, athletes who achieve a qualifying standard in 2011 must subsequently achieve times that are within 1% of the qualifying time during 2012, in any one of their qualifying events by the last day of the qualification period – 31st May 2012.
Currently Barry Murphy (Club Wolverine/Aer Lingus swimming club) who is coached by Mike Bottom in Michigan is the only Irish swimmer to have achieved the Olympic qualifying standard since the qualification period began on 1st March 2011 (achieved at the Indianapolis Grand Prix meet in 100m breaststroke, 1:00.77). Gráinne Murphy, having recently sat her Leaving Certificate exams, swam inside the qualifying times for the 400m Individual Medley and the 800m freestyle last year at the European long course Championships in Budapest and must repeat or better those times again this year in order to meet the qualifying criteria for the 2012 Olympic Games.
Melanie Nocher has shown consistent form since last summer’s European Championships, clocking a solid 2:12.73 at the Irish Long Course Nationals in spring this year. Sycerika McMahon is fresh off a triple medal-winning week of swimming in Belgrade, Serbia at the European Junior Swimming Championships at which she picked up 2 gold medals (400m freestyle and 50m breaststroke) and one silver (200m freestyle). Clare Dawson returns from injury to form part of Ireland’s 4x200m freestyle women’s relay (Thursday) – the first time Ireland has had a women’s 4x200m relay entry at a World Swimming Championships.
Heats gets underway tomorrow morning at the Oriental Sports Centre in Shanghai at 09.00am local time / 02.00am Irish time.
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