Nocher and McMahon book their seats


IRISH SWIMMERS took another two seats on an increasingly crowded aircraft to London yesterday as Melanie Nocher and Sycerika McMahon both posted A standards at the European Championships in Hungary. They will join Gráinne Murphy and Barry Murphy in the Aquatic Centre at this summer’s Games.

With time running out to make the grade for Olympic qualification, Nocher and McMahon came good in Debrecen, Nocher qualifying for the 200 metres backstroke and McMahon claiming a place in the 100m breaststroke.

Remarkably, the 17-year-old McMahon posted identical times in both the heats and semi-finals of the 100m breaststroke, clocking 1:08.37 on both occasions to set a new Irish record. That was the fifth fastest time overall and good enough for a place in today’s final while the Portaferry teenager will also be going in the heats of the 200m individual medley.

Nocher, who will be going to her second Olympics having previously competed in Beijing four years ago, needed to lower her own Irish record in the 200m backstroke to dip under the A standard required. And the Holywood, Co Down, woman duly delivered, the 24-year-old finishing fifth in the final in a time of 2:10.75, just .09 of a second inside the mark.

There was no such joy for Fiona Doyle, however, who bowed out of the 100m breaststroke at the semi-final stage but she could yet make it to London in the 200m breaststroke later in the week.

There are 43 Irish athletes qualified for the Games with the final total guaranteed to top 50.