MONA McSharry believes she can make waves in the 200m breaststroke after coming agonisingly close to booking an Olympic spot in a second event.
McSharry, a native of Grange who competes for Marlin’s Swimming Club in Ballyshannon, booked her spot in Tokyo in the 100m breaststroke last Tuesday at the Irish National Team Trials.
On Friday morning, McSharry was so near yet so far from the qualifying time in the 200m breaststroke.
In her heat, McSharry smashed her Irish record, lowering the mark to 2:25.92 and going within 0.4 seconds from booking a spot in a second event in Tokyo.
There was some surprise when McSharry didn’t take to the pool for Saturday evening’s final.
“My plan going into the competition was to swim the 100 and qualify in that,” McSharry explained.
“I had entered the 200 as possibly a backup incase I didn’t qualify in the 100, but also I haven’t swam a 200m breaststroke rested and fully tapered in three years. I knew I could swim faster and I wanted to post a good time. I said I’d swim the heats to see how it goes.
“I was always planning to go home after the heats.”
McSharry, speaking to Austin O’Callaghan on Ocean FM, said she was ‘frustrated’ with her 200m heat.
She said: “There were one or two things that I could have done better. I didn’t want to leave it with being so close. I’m not training for it specifically so to come so close to a FINA A time was amazing.
“I think in the future, with a lot more practice, I could be a really good 200m breastroker, but I’m just not there yet. It wasn’t the main focus and it’s still a work in progress.”
On Tuesday, McSharry twice beat the Olympic qualifying time and lowered the Irish record each time in the 100m breaststroke.
McSharry beat the Olympic qualifying mark when she seam 1:06.97 in her heat before going down to 1:06.29 in her semi-final – a time that is the seventh fastest in the world during this current Olympic cycle.
McSharry used the 100m final in preparation for her 200m attempt, but still cruised to victory in 1:08.92.
Last August, the former Colaiste Cholmcille Ballyshannon student moved to take up a scholarship at the University of Tennessee and has been in superb form Stateside.
Last month, McSharry broke her own school record in the 200m breaststroke and also bested the school’s 100m breaststroke record at the Women’s NCAA Swimming and Division Championships. There, McSharry won silver in the 100m breast, turning in a school record of 57.80. seconds.