On the occasion of their 2016 awards gala, where Swim Ireland named Fiona Doyle and Conor Ferguson its Swimmers of the Year, two legends of aquatic sport also received their inductions into the Swim Ireland Hall of Fame. World-renowned coach Peter Banks and the country’s most accomplished diver Eddie Heron were both appointed as part of the class of 2016, inducting two of the greatest figures in Irelands aquatics history.
Banks is the current National Performance Director (since 2009) and has been involved in coaching in Ireland since he was in his 20s. His big breakthrough internationally came when he moved to Florida in 1989 and, among others, took over coaching of three-time individual Olympic champion Brooke Bennett and Olympic silver medalist Martiza Correia in the United States.
As for Heron, the diver, his name has become relevant and known again as Ireland’s only ever Olympic diver. He has a long list of international accomplishments from a time before diving was as well-regimented and organized as it is now.
Among his honors was a victory at the 1932 British Diving Championships, which at the time was considered a major title. After winning countless Irish Championships, Heron was the unfortunate victim of timing in never being able to truly explore the international quality of his abilities. Ireland didn’t compete in the 1936 Olympic Games due to a dispute over which sporting body should represent the country’s athletes, and World War 2 interrupted the next two events. Heron again qualified for the 1948 Olympics, but after competing in the preliminary rounds (the only Irish aquatic athlete to do so), the entire swimming & diving contingent was withdrawn once again over jurisdictional disputes.
The award was presented posthumously to Heron, who died in 1985, by Oliver Dingley, who in February became the first diver to qualify to represent Ireland at the Olympics in the 68 years since Heron did so.