Ireland’s 4x200m freestyle women’s relay team of Sycerika McMahon, Melanie Nocher, Clare Dawson and Gráinne Murphy set a new Irish senior record early this morning in Shanghai at the World Swimming Championships, recording a time of 8:07.66 – an improvement of just under two seconds from the previous record mark set in 2007.
The Irish team went in heat two of three heats, alongside the no. 2 seeded Chinese team, and finished sixteenth place overall out of seventeen teams. This was the first time for the quartet to swim on a relay squad together.
“The 4x200m is getting stronger every time we see it so we just had to go out and swim our own race and I think that’s what we did – everybody gave it their all so we can definitely take a positive away from it – a new Irish senior record. We don’t get to swim relays very often – these guys that are doing these races, they’re practicing take overs every couple of months with each other, so for us it’s hard, we’re just getting used to swimming together and I think for that it was a good swim and you can only take positives away from it,” commented Melanie Nocher who swam the second leg on the relay.
The top twelve finishing nations from these Championships have automatically been given a relay spot for the 2012 Olympics next year. Four additional teams will be selected by FNA (world governing body for swimming) in the coming year, on the basis of the fastest times achieved before June 1st, 2012, putting the Irish squad still in the running for a relay place at the London Games.
“We were a little bit disappointed, we thought we might be a little bit faster this morning, we were trying to go for 12th place – 8:02 gets an automatic place to the Olympics next year. We were 8:07 so we were about five seconds outside where we needed to be,” remarked Peter Banks, Swim Ireland’s National Performance Director.
“With a small nation like ours, we’re not going to always field every relay but we have to look at what we can best field and that will be certainly something I’m going to be looking at really strongly in the next year. We were 16th – we still have an opportunity to be invited to the Olympics. It’s an outside shot, but we’re in the top 16 and once you’re in the top 16, you have an opportunity,” he added.
Particularly impressive today was Ireland’s lead off swimmer and youngest member of the team in Shanghai, sixteen year-old Sycerika McMahon who led out the relay in a split time of 2:00.88, followed by another quick split swim of 2:01.28 from Nocher.
“Sycerika did a great job, we put a bit of pressure on her putting her up first, being the fastest 200m freestyler. She was a little but disappointed she didn’t go under the 2 minutes but again there was a lot of pressure on her,” said Banks.
“It was a great honour to lead the relay and it was a really good experience, I just hope I can learn from it,” commented a pleased McMahon after the race.
With three days left of competition in Shanghai, Ireland continues its campaign tomorrow with a busy day in the pool. Barry Murphy races in the men’s 50m freestyle, Melanie Nocher goes in the 200m backstroke and Gráinne Murphy swims in the 800m freestyle. Heats get underway tomorrow at 9:00am local time (2:00am Irish time).
other quotes from Shanghia :
“Everybody swam well this morning and most probably the thing we’re lacking is enough time swimming together, we havn’t put this team together enough times and it will be something we’ll definitely work on for the next four years, is to really work on a proper relay strategy so that we’ll work together over a four year period so that we can be a little bit more understanding of what we need to do as a team to be successful.”
“I’ve been waiting all week to swim with these guys so it’s great to be able to get in with these guys and break a record, I’m really pleased.”
“I’m not really used to swimming relays, it was a good experience here and especially that we got an Irish record, it’s great.”