Ireland’s Sycerika McMahon has to be content with 12th place overall in Berlin

Dan Sweeney, Nicholas Quinn and Brendan Hyland fail to emerge from their respective heats at the Europa-Sportpark

Ireland had its second semi-finalist at the European Championships in Berlin tonight but it was always going to take something special for 19-year-old Sycerika McMahon to make the top eight in the women's 200 metres individual medley, an event that involves the four disciplines.

Although it was an improved swim by the Texas A&M-based swimmer and close to her personal best, McMahon had to be content with 12th place overall, point eight of a second outside a final place.

By her own admission the second leg of backstroke is her Achilles heel in the four-length race and McMahon was eighth and last at the 100m mark. However, a fine back half of the event on breaststroke and freestyle saw her get close to those ahead but unfortunately McMahon had too much to do and she missed out on a final berth.

“It was good to get back for the semi-final but once again it’s not what I’m looking for right now,” said McMahon. “But it’s a step in the right direction; I’ve improved since Commonwealth Games and that’s what I need to keep doing. I’ve said in the past that the backstroke needs a lot of work but the IM is a work in progress for me and it can only get better.”

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McMahon was one of four Irish competitors in action today at the Europa-Sportpark, but was the only one to emerge from their respective heats, as Dan Sweeney, Nicholas Quinn and Brendan Hyland all dropped out early from what was their main events.

In action

Hyland had been in action in two races on Monday and Tuesday in order to get ready for his main discipline the 200 butterfly but the Tallaght swimmer’s time of 2:00.34 was only good enough to place him 24th overall. Quinn and Sweeney had both produced personal bests in the men’s 100 breastroke on Monday but Sweeney was disqualified after his 200 breastroke heat, much to his surprise, after a technical infringement at the first turn.

Quinn went mighty close to a top-16 berth in the same event. His time of 2.14.82 was slower than he had hoped for but it was only point six of a second shy of making the semi-finals. Such are the fine margins at the top level of international competition.

Gregirio Paltrinieri of Italy broke the European record for the men’s 1,500m freestyle in 14.39.02 winning a race that saw the unfancied Faroe Islands swimmer Pal Joenson take an unlikely silver ahead of Italy’s Gabriele Detti. Serbian Velimir Stjepanovic completed the men’s 200m-400m freestyle double, just getting the touch in the 200m from Germany’s home favorite Paul Biederman by two hundredths of a second, with Yannick Agnel of France in bronze.