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Aggies at the Commonwealth Games - Day 9

July 24, 2014
Courtesy: Texas A&M Athletics
(photo: Texas A&M Athletics)
GLASGOW, Scotland – Several Texas A&M current and former athletes have headed to Scotland to compete for their home countries in the XX Commonwealth Games. These Aggies include Alia Atkinson (class of 2010) swimming for Jamaica, Sycerika McMahon (class of 2017) swimming for Northern Ireland, Grant Nel (class of 2012) diving for Australia, and Ellen Quirke (class of 2015) swimming for New Zealand.

The Commonwealth Games, held every four years, is very similar to the Olympic Games except that it only includes current and former nations of the British Commonwealth. The Games begin with the Queen’s Baton Relay, which is very similar to the Olympic Games’ Torch Relay, that travels through all of the participating countries before ending at the Opening Ceremonies. Most of the Aggie athletes did not attend the opening ceremonies, however, due to their aquatic duties that began early the next day.

Swimming Day 1

The Aggies made their mark in the pool on the first day of the Games when former swimmer, Alia Atkinson, broke an eight-year-old Commonwealth Games record in the 50-meter breaststroke by .02 seconds during prelims with a time of 30.49. In the same event, Sycerika McMahon took second in her heat and qualified for the second semifinal with a time of 31.12. McMahon and teammate Ellen Quirke helped their countries' 4x100-meter freestyle relays qualify for finals.

Finals also brought some great swims from the Aggies. After breaking the Games record in prelims, Atkinson went on to break her own 50-meter breaststroke record in the second semifinal heat with a time of 30.17. She just missed the Commonwealth record by .01 seconds. McMahon took the first-alternate position for finals in the 50-meter breaststroke after going a 31.56 with Atkinson in the second semifinal heat. McMahon also led the Northern Ireland team to an eighth place finish in the 4x100-meter relay with a time of 3:52.88 after leading off with a 57.27. Quirke helped New Zealand to a fourth place finish as she anchored the relay and touched the wall with a 3:43.83.

Swimming Day 2

There were not any Aggies competing in any of the prelims events in the morning but at night Alia Atkinson lit up the pool yet again in the 50-meter breaststroke. Atkinson took off from lane four with a slight lead in front of Australian, Leiston Pickett in lane five. Atkinson maintained the lead for the first 25 meters but Pickett caught up on the second half. The two stayed neck-and-neck for the remainder of the race but Pickett ended up out-touching Atkinson by .08 seconds. Atkinson took silver with a 30.67 finish.

In more local news, sophomore Sarah Gibson of San Antonio and junior Claire Brandt of Dallas punched their tickets to the U.S. National Championships. Gibson qualified in the 200-meter freestyle with a 2:02.35 and Brandt in the 100-meter backstroke with a 1:02.80. Both events took place at the Long Course Sectional Championships in Shenandoah, Texas. Already qualified for the championship meet is Cammile Adams (class of 2014) of Cypress, Texas, senior Sammie Bosma of Marietta, Ga., freshman Bethany Galat of Mishawaka, Ind., senior Sarah Henry of Garner, N.C., junior Colleen Konetzke of San Antonio, Texas, Breeja Larson (class of 2014) of Mesa, Ariz., and senior Emily Neubert of Waco, Texas. The U.S. National Championships will take place in Irvine, Calif., August 6-10.

Swimming Day 3

After dominating in the 50-meter breaststroke on Day 1, Atkinson and McMahon took on the 200-meter breaststroke. Atkinson led the event through the first 50-meters with a 32.99 split. The race tightened going into the second 50-meters as Atkinson was overtaken by Australians, Taylor McKeown and Sally Hunter both with a 100-meter split of 1:09.96 and Atkinson with a 1:10.16. Atkinson tried to catch up with a 38.49 split but fell to fourth being out-touched by Hannah Miley of Scotland. Atkinson qualified finals in the eighth position with a 2:28.33. McMahon finished next to Atkinson in the fifth position with a 2:31.98 but did not qualify for finals.

In finals, Atkinson put up a good fight but so did her fellow competitors. Atkinson led the pack from lane eight through the first 30-meters but fell to second at the wall behind Australian, Taylor McKeown. Through the next 50-meters, Atkinson gradually slipped to the middle of the pack touching the 100-meter wall in the fourth position. She fought back and was second on the final turn behind McKeown. By the time she reached the 175-meter mark it was any swimmer’s race. McKeown and her teammate Sally Hunter took the lead leaving Atkinson and the other five to fight for third. Atkinson took seventh in the event only .48 seconds behind the bronze medalist with a 2:25.48.

Swimming Day 4

As the Commonwealth Games go into their fourth day, the Aggies continue their streak of excellence. McMahon started off the day with the 200-meter individual medley. She took third in her heat with a time of 2:16.14 but was not quite fast enough to earn herself a position in the finals.

Prelims continued with the 100-meter breaststroke as Atkinson and McMahon took on six others in the fourth heat to compete for a berth in the semifinals. Atkinson took the early lead and held onto it, blowing everyone out of the water with a first place finish in the heat by just over two seconds with a time of 1:07.95. McMahon had a much tougher race finishing in second ahead of Molly Renshaw of England by .22 seconds with a time of 1:10.07. Both Atkinson and McMahon qualified for the semifinals.

In the semifinals of the 100-meter breaststroke that evening, Atkinson again blew past all of the other competitors taking the lead from the very beginning and no one was able to catch her. She took first in the heat by over one second with a time of 1:06.87, earning the fastest time overall for the day and the number one spot in finals. McMahon finished sixth in the heat with a time of 1:09.41, finishing tenth overall.

Swimming Day 5

To start the fifth day of the Games, McMahon was the only Aggie to compete in the prelims session. She took on the 200-meter butterfly and finished fifth in her heat with a 2:15.53. McMahon finished fourteenth overall in the event.

That evening, Atkinson competed in her final race of the Games: the 100-meter breaststroke final. Atkinson led the race hitting the first wall with a 30.81 split, .66 seconds ahead of Sophie Taylor of England. She maintained her lead through the next 25 meters but was overtaken Taylor then Australian Lorna Tonks. Atkinson fought back for the lead but to no avail. Atkinson finished third earning herself the bronze medal with a time of 1:08.14.

Swimming Day 6

In the final day of swimming competition, Sycerika McMahon swam her final event of these Commonwealth Games. At the start of her heat, McMahon started off in the second position but was able to catch up to take the lead at the third wall. McMahon held onto her lead throughout the remainder of the race to win her heat with a 4:16.21. Unfortunately, McMahon did not qualify for the finals of this event. She finished fourteenth overall in the event.

Diving Day 1

With swimming completed, the aquatic center transitioned to diving. The men’s events started with the 1-meter springboard. Diving for Australia, from Texas A&M, was Grant Nel. After a series of fantastic dives, Nel ended the prelims session with a score of 352.60 putting him in the the fifth position for finals.

Nel closed the first day of diving with a smash. He started in the fifth position but was able to dive his way up to third with a score of 403.40. Nel walked away from his first day of diving at the XX Commonwealth Games proudly wearing a bronze medal around his neck.

Diving Day 2 

After an amazing performance on the 1-meter springboard on his first day of competition, Aggie Grant Nel was ready to begin day two with the 3-meter springboard. Although he had several great dives, he didn’t receive the scores he was hoping for. Nel’s day ended at prelims with a score of 335.25 putting him in the fifteenth position.

Diving Day 3

Grant Nel wrapped up the final day of Aggie aquatic action at the Commonwealth Games with his synchronized diving partner, Matthew Mitcham of Brisbane, Australia. The Australian team dove extremely well and ended the session behind the English duo of Jack Laugher and Chris Mears with a score of 403.14 and silver medals around their necks.

About the Commonwealth Games

The modern Commonwealth Games began in 1930 and were originally known as the British Empire Games and was composed of 11 nations. Over time the Games have been renamed to include the “British Empire and Commonwealth Games,” the “British Commonwealth Games,” and the current “Commonwealth Games.” The current Commonwealth Games incorporate teams from nations that are or were a part of the British Commonwealth.

The Commonwealth Games, for most of the athletes in attendance, are equivalent to the Olympic Games because of their ability to represent their home nations (i.e. England, Wales, Scotland) unlike at the Olympic Games in which they must represent the United Kingdom. The games incorporate 22 sports into its format and uniquely incorporate para-sports concurrently throughout all events in the Games.


Schedule of Events

Live streaming for all events can be found on the Commonwealth Games YouTube

Swimming Real-time Results can be found at

Diving Real-time Results can be found at


Time (CT)



Athletes (Heat, Lane)

July 24

5:20 am

Women 200 Freestyle


McMahon (H3, L1)


5:38 am

Women 50 Breaststroke


Atkinson (H3,L4)

McMahon (H4, L6)


6:46 am

Women 4x100 Free Relay


McMahon (H2, L3, 2nd)

Quirke (H1, L3, 4th)


2:05 pm

Women 50 Breaststroke


Atkinson (H2, L4)

McMahon (H2, L3)


3:10 pm

Women 4x100 Free Relay


McMahon (L8, 1st)

Quirke (L6, 4th)


July 25

1:12 pm

Women 50 Breaststroke


Atkinson (L4)


July 26

4:56 am

Women 200 Breaststroke


Atkinson (H4, L3)

McMahon (H4, L3)


1:36 pm

Women 200 Breaststroke


Atkinson (L8)


July 27

5:26 am

Women 200 Ind. Medley


McMahon (H3, L6)


5:59 am

Women 100 Breaststroke


Atkinson (H4, L4)

McMahon (H4, L2)


2:09 pm

Women 200 Ind. Medley



2:28 pm

Women 100 Breaststroke


 Atkinson (H1, L4)

McMahon (H1, L2)


July 28

5:25 am

Women 200 Butterfly


McMahon (H1, L1)


2:26 pm

Women 100 Breaststroke


Atkinson (L4)

2:32 pm

Women 200 Butterfly



July 29

4:33 am

Women 400 Freestyle


McMahon (H1, L4)


1:07 pm

Women 400 Freestyle


July 30

4:05 am

Men 1m Springboard


  12:05 pm 

Men 1m Springboard


July 31  4:05 am Men 3m Springboard Prelims Nel
  12:05 pm  Men 3m Springboard Final  
 Aug 1

 5:33 am

Men Synchronised 3m Springboard


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