Former Safety Beach swimmer qualifies for the Paralympics

Madeleine McTernan with her ticket to the Tokyo Paralympics.


MADELEINE McTernan has realised her long-time dream of becoming a Paralympian after qualifying for the upcoming Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.

The former Coffs Harbour Swimming Club member qualified for Tokyo due to being the fastest female relay swimmer in the S14 Mixed 4X100m relay.

The 20-year-old will compete in the S14 classification which features swimmers with an intellectual impairment, and will compete in the Mixed 4X100m relay, 200m women’s freestyle and the 100m women’s backstroke.

She is currently ranked 3rd in the world for the 200m freestyle and 4th in the world for the 100m backstroke.

McTernan qualified for her first Paralympics during the recent Australian Swimming Trials in Adelaide.

The new Paralympian attended St Francis Xavier School in Woolgoolga when the family first moved to Safety Beach in 2008.

She attended St John Paul College for three years before moving to the Gold Coast in 2016.

She started her time in the water when she trained every summer at the Woolgoolga Surf Lifesaving Club.

After swimming for her school, she decided to leave surf lifesaving to focus and compete in competition state swimming.

McTernan shared with News Of The Area the pride she felt in realising her dream of becoming a Paralympian.

“I am so happy and proud to represent Australia at the Tokyo Paralympic games,” she said.

“It’s a dream come true for me, and it has taken a long time and a lot of hard work for me to make this team.

“I could not have done it without the support of mum and dad, my friends and my little dog Lucy who keeps me company when I do dry land training at home.

“It’s a great honour to join the ranks of other Paralympians, and I am so grateful the Paralympics provides opportunities for everyone.

“Knowing that I will be competing against the world’s best is a dream come true.”

McTernan has previously represented Australia at the World Para Swimming Championships at London in 2019, where she finished 5th in the Women’s 100m Backstroke (S14).

2019 saw McTernan win her first individual medal for Australia where she won a bronze in the women’s 50m backstroke multi-class at the World Para Swimming World Series in Melbourne, and then coming back in the 2020 World Para Series to take Gold in the 200m Multi class Freestyle and Silver in the 50m Women’s Backstroke.

April 2019 saw the young swimmer and rising star excel at the Hancock Prospecting Australian Swimming Championships in Adelaide, where she won 8 gold medals at the Australian Age Multi-Class championships.

At the Australian Open she won silver in the women’s 50m backstroke multi-class and bronze in the women’s 200m freestyle multi-class.

October 2019 saw McTernan win two relay gold medals for Australia at the Global Games which were held in Brisbane.

Her success continued in 2020 breaking a world record at the Australian Short Course Championships in the S14 400m Women’s freestyle, and then breaking both the 100m and 200m Australian woman’s s14 Freestyle records at the Queensland State swimming championships.

The former Coffs Harbour Swimming Club member had fond memories of her time at the local club.

“I will never forget my years at Coffs Harbour, especially Friday night swim club nights and competing at the numerous swimming carnivals around the mid-north coast,” she said.

“I loved being part of a team environment and all the support the club gave me, the great memories of where I came from.

“I loved having swimming to give me something to do and getting up every morning to train many hours a week takes such dedication and has set me up with a good routine.

“I am so thankful for my family and coach Eugene Brogmus for believing in me as I would not be on the Paralympic journey without them.

“I came from a small town and will never forget Coffs Harbour.

“I will also never forget my time with Woolgoolga Surf Lifesaving Club where I was on patrol duties after completing my Surf Rescue Certificate.”

The medal hopeful praised the influence of her former coach in Coffs Harbour.

“My coach in Coffs Harbour was Eugene Brogmus and he first coached me in 2014,” she said.

“I did not have any swimming techniques, and I could not do butterfly or breaststroke and my freestyle and backstroke needed a lot of work.

“He knew it was going to take a lot of hard work, and Eugene would say what a normal swimmer would take for technique instructions would take five times, but for me it would take about fifty due to my classification.

“Eugene was a great coach and mentor for me, and he believed in me, and I am still best friends with Eugene and his family and many others at Coffs Harbour Swimming Club.

“I am looking forward to the Tokyo Paralympics and will never forget where I come from.”

The Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games will be held on 24 August – 5 September 2021.




Madeleine McTernan with her former Coffs Harbour Swimming Club coach Eugene Brogmus.

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