A GREAT swim by Nicholas Quinn saw him win his heat in the 200m breaststroke – his favoured distance – at the Olympic Games earlier this afternoon.
The Castlebar man looked very comfortable throughout in heat two as he led home his competitors in a time of 2:11.67, which was just off his best ever time of 2:11.24. The Irish record in this discipline is 2:10.16, held by Andrew Bree.
Nic was third after the first 50m, second at the halfway point, still second at the 150m point, and pushed into the lead in the closing 50m.
Unfortunately, his time wasn't quick enough to see him reach the semi-finals. He missed out by .41 of a second, finishing 19th overall.
Reacting to the result on RTÉ, Nicholas said it was 'amazing' to get out into the pool and swim again. “The Brazilian guy was in the lane beside me so I knew it was going to get loud in there and it was great to get out there and race in such an atmosphere – I've never experienced something like that before. It was definitely an amazing expericence.”
Ultimately he was happy with his swim, if understandably a little downcast at not reaching the semi-finals. “I'm a bit disappointed not to make the second swim – that's what I came here to do. But it's my first Olympics, (I was) just off my best. It's so hard to replicate peak performance year after year. At the Olympic Games there's so much happening. I always knew it was going to be a challenge to come in and swim a PB (personal best), but to win my heat and just miss out on a semi-final by 0.40 ... it's a game of fine margins. I'm happy. I can walk out of here and hold my head up high.
“I knew to give myself any chance of getting back (for the semi-finals) I'd have to win that heat. It's something I felt I was capable of doing, and to go out and do it – and I felt like I executed my race really well – I'm really happy with that. Gutted I don't get to go out and race again in that atmosphere, but I'm proud of what I've done.”
What about the Olympic Games experience? “It's everything you think it's going to be. This is the pinnacle of swimming. It's the pinnacle of most sports. It's where you want to compete at, and to come in here and do two very solid swims, I feel like I've done everything I could have done. It's been amazing, and now I can't wait to get behind the rest of Team Ireland and see what everyone else can do.
“I've no regrets at all. This is my first world or Olympic at senior level ... and hopefully there's more to come. Not hopefully; I firmly believe there is more to come. I'll be back training in a couple of weeks. It's onwards and upwards.”
In the RTÉ studio, Andrew Bree was full of admiration for what Nicholas Quinn had done in the pool. He said: “That was intense. Beautiful swim. I really enjoyed it. His technique is there. At 23, I had just missed Athens by .20 of a second, and he's just missed the semis by the semis by .40.
“From a coaching point of view, we weren't finding any major faults in that. He's got it there. Four more years - that's the target, Tokyo.”
“He'll go back to Castlebar like a rock star. I hope he does – he deserves it.”
Quinn was in action in the 100m breaststroke on Saturday, finishing fourth in his heat and placed 33rd overall. His time of 1:01.95 was his third fastest ever.