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Heyliger questions future after nervy display

Rebecca Heyliger said nerves got the better of her after struggling to find her rhythm in yesterday's 50 metres freestyle heats at the Olympic Games.

Heyliger was one of the fastest in her heat but could only manage sixth-place in a disappointing time of 26.54sec at the Aquatics Stadium, finishing 52nd out of 91 swimmers.

The 23-year-old was never realistically going to advance to the semi-finals but had hoped to improve on her personal best and national-record time of 26.13sec.

She made the worst possible start having technical problems in her breakout, the final piece of the underwater when a swimmer transitions from kicking, and never fully recovered.

Karen Torrez of Bolivia won the heat in 26.16, with Naomi Ruele of Botswana second in 26.23 and Elinah Phillip of British Virgin Islands third in 26.26.

“I wasn't pleased with that time and when I get nervous I tend to mess up my breakout and that happened again here,” Heyliger said.

“It was about four tenths off my personal best. It would have been a best time last summer but I was hoping to do way better than that.

“I think it was all on the breakout and my left arm left the streamline and from there it's almost a complete stop. I had to try and speed up from there.

“I was in a centre lane and I should have come in the top two which I didn't, and that's disappointing.”

Heyliger, who met the Olympic B standard at the Validus Bermuda National Championships in May, arrived in Rio more than 1½ weeks ago and believes the lengthy wait ahead of her competition did not help her mindset.

“It was a cool experience, but I'm just disappointed,” said Heyliger, who competes for Trojan Swim Club at the University of Southern California.

“It's been really fun; it's just been a lot of waiting around to race and I've been here for ten days already.

“Maybe if the 50 free was earlier I may have done a bit better, but that's how it goes.

“I was pretty nervous before the race. I'm normally a loud person but I've been quiet the past few days. I was definitely feeling the nerves.”

Heyliger will now turn her attention to the Short Course World Championships to be held in Windsor, Ontario, in December.

She has not yet qualified for next summer's World Championships in Budapest, Hungary, and said she does not know what her swimming future holds.

“I will at least carry on through this winter and I still have to get the qualifying times for next summer,” she said. “I guess a lot will depend on that.”

Uncertain future: Heyliger finished sixth in her heat in Rio and does not know what she will do next (File photograph by Sideya Dill)

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Published August 13, 2016 at 9:00 am (Updated August 13, 2016 at 1:04 am)

Heyliger questions future after nervy display

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