The competition at the world swimming championships in Shanghai, China, turns its attention to the pool on Saturday morning with the first four of the five Irish competitors in action.
Irish Swimming’s high performance coach Peter Banks has already stated that “we set out a goal a year ago to try and come to Shanghai to get some A standard times for London 2012 and a couple of finalists and that’s our expectations.”
European 1500 metre silver medallist Grainne Murphy competes in the Women’s 200 metres Individual medley as a tune up for her more favoured distance freestyle events later in the week.
Banks said “She competes in the 1500 and the 800 freestyle with the 800 the Olympic event. There are a slew of swimmers on the 8:23 to 8:25 mark so it won’t be easy to perform if the rest are swimming well. It’s a case of swimming well in the morning to progress to semis and finals.”
Barry Murphy is first up in his top event, the Men’s 100 metres breastroke on the opening morning.
The Dubliner who almost quit the sport after missing out on making the Beijing Games won the gold in the 100m breaststroke final at the Indianapolis Grand Prix back in March and his time of 1:00.77 was inside the A qualifying time for the London 2012 Olympics.
His time is ranked inside the world’s top 16 this year.
Performance Director Peter Banks said “Barry has already made his A time for the Olympics so we would like to get the likes of Grainne Murphy and Melanie Nocher to also reach that standard in their events,” Banks said.
“If he wants to progress he will have to swim heats, semis and finals so he will have to produce the goods,” he added.
Ireland’s other swimmer in action Friday is Belfast teenager Sycerika McMahon who won nine gold medals at the National Championship and followed that by taking two golds and a silver at the recent European Junior Championships in Belgrade.
The 16-year-old will compete in the 400 Freestyle as well as the heats of the women’s 100 metres butterfly.
“Sycerika gets a chance to swim individual races as she qualified for the relay squad and like Grainne who won three medals at the junior Europeans in 2009, she has now progressed to the world championship,” Banks said.
“Sycerika is a great young talent coming up and we are trying to give her the chance to show what she can do on the International stage.
“We also have a Women’s 4 x200 metres relay squad here trying to qualify and Sycerika is part of that, but that is a new thing for us so it will be interesting to see how they go.”
Banks has a stated aim of getting six ‘A’ standard swimmers to the London Olympics and he will be hopeful that he can produced three of those in Shanghai.
“This is where we are now and it will be great for our swimmers to see where they are 12 months out from the Olympics. By exposing them to the worlds we get them to think about where they fit into world swimming and only by doing that can we raise the standard of swimming in Ireland.”
Irish race schedule
Article from extracts RTE