Courage drives Maddie McTernan at World Para Swimming Championships

Maddie with her Gold and Silver medals from the recent 2023 World Para Swimming Championships held in Manchester, Great Britain.

A SUDDEN health issue for former Coffs Harbour Paralympic silver medallist Madeleine McTernan nearly dashed her hopes for a winning performance at the 2023 World Para Swimming Championships from 31 July to 6 August 2023.

Having begun her swim for the women’s S14 200m Freestyle final, her first race at the championships, McTernan suffered a cardiac arrhythmia attack at the 50m mark in the race, resulting in her suddenly slowing at the 150m mark and struggling to finishing the event, coming in last.

This was her fourth such episode in the last three years, with the most recent attack occurring in February 2022.

Having worked with the advice of her cardiologist Maddie was excelling again and hoped the issue had been resolved.

Through her father, Paul McTernan, Maddie told News Of The Area that she was feeling nervous and anxious before the final, and with the lack of ventilation at the venue it was extremely hot inside and she became dehydrated, triggering the attack.

After seeking advice from the team psychologist, McTernan dug deep into a favourite quote for inspiration: Winston Churchill’s “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts”.

“True to her resilience, she dramatically turned her campaign around,” said Paul McTernan.

Fast forward to day 4 of the championships, McTernan and her Australian Mixed 4 x 100m Freestyle Relay teammates of Jack Ireland, Ruby Storm and Ben Hance fought a brilliant race to win silver for Australia in the final, also achieving an Oceania record in the process.

On Day 6 McTernan was selected to swim the anchor leg of the Mixed 4 x 100m Medley Relay team day. Backtrack 12 months earlier when Australia lost this race to the British team by the smallest of margins, one hundredth of a second, to win the silver medal.

McTernan swam the anchor leg of that race and remembers the heartbreak it left with her teammates.

McTernan stated at the time to her despondent teammates, “let’s train harder and we will get them next time”.

“Train harder they did, and McTernan and her teammates dominated the race where they finished the night on the highest of highs, taking the gold and locking down an astonishing new world record in a time of 4:07.71, taking almost 2 seconds off the previous record,” said Paul.

Ben Hance took out the backstroke in 56.94, with Jake Michel completing the breaststroke leg in 1:04.13.

Paige Leonhardt took full advantage of the lead provided by Hance and Michel finishing her butterfly leg in 1:06.09 with Madeleine McTernan anchoring the freestyle leg, this time she never let her British rivals catch her, swimming a time of 1:00.55 and the team claiming a world record in the process.


World Record time for gold medal winning Mixed 4 x 100m Medley Relay team: Maddie McTernan, Ben Hance, Paige Leonhardt and Jake Michel.

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