Youth at the heart of swimming performance programme in Abbottstown

Newstalk.com speaks to Bethany Carson following her appointment to the National Performance Programme

Swim Ireland

Image: ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy

Last week, Swim Ireland unveiled the appointment of two assistant head coaches in their national performance programme.

Steven Beckerleg, formerly of Plymouth Leander, and Bethany Carson have joined National Performance Director Jon Rudd in at Abbottstown, with a National Head Coach yet to be named.

Beckerleg, 28, and Carson, 25, both boast impressive records as swimmers in their own right - representing England and Ireland respectively at the Commonwealth Games.

Their appointments signal a more youthful approach to Swim Ireland's programme and Carson says that this will be positive for athlete development.

"Because it’s an assistant coach role, we’ll always be working under someone for guidance," she tells Newstalk.com.

"But we can relate to the swimmers, what they’re going through and the feeling they have during their training. It’s nice to know you can talk to them because you've experienced it."

Bethany Carson representing Ireland at the 2013 European Short Course Swimming Championships. Image: ©INPHO/Andrea Staccioli

Carson has competed for Ireland for 10 years before calling time on her swimming career almost two years ago.

"I was coming into the end of my degree in sports science in DCU and felt it was the right time to focus on my studies. I wasn’t progressing like I had been before."

Coaching

After competing, the Lisburn native stayed involved with the organisation and said coaching was always an option she had considered.

"I’ve been involved in other programmes. I was involved in Swim Ireland’s Swim for a mile project which was around getting adults involved in swimming.

"I took part for about six months and found it really natural. I’ve been involved with the high performance previously."

Swim Ireland noted this year that they had "put in place a restructured programme for 2017 and beyond."

The revised framework "sets out a vision of a long-term, systemic approach to achieving consistent medal success at Olympic and World level."

The organisation say that the framework would be "centred on the people within the system – athletes, coaches, support staff and administrators – and focuses on developing a culture of personal excellence that builds their capability to operate successfully at the highest levels of World Sport."

With this new ethos, Carson says she's looking forward to the new direction.

"It’s an exciting time, there’s a lot of fresh faces. It’s very swimmer orientated in that the athlete is being treated like a person and not just as a swimmer."

Currently, the aim is to help the new team transition and settle as quickly as possible, before they meet for a strategic meeting in two weeks time.

"We're trying to help out the guys in the performance centre, after a difficult few months without a settled coach. Dave Malone, head coach at the NAC, has bee helping out a great deal. As well as existing coach, Hayley Burke."

Ireland's Olympic swimmers (l-r) Nicholas Quinn, Shane Ryan and Fiona Doyle ahead of last summer's Games in Rio. Image: ©INPHO/James Crombie

Much of Ireland's talent pool train and reside here, with some working on the National Sports Campus in Abbottstown.

Others, like Olympians Nicholas Quinn and Fiona Doyle, have continued their training abroad. Carson says that the new programme will see the 'isolation' of these athletes reduced.

"They'll still be continuously monitored. We're constantly in touch and getting fed back information, they'll be coming over every now and then to train together in the centre."

Monday will see competitors unveiled for World and Junior World Championship competitors later this year.