Swim Ireland and National Performance Director Jon Rudd have announced the hiring of Ben Higson as its National Senior Team Head Coach and Head Coach of the National Centre, Dublin.
Representing the first time Swim Ireland’s roles of Performance Director and Head Coach will be separated, Higson will take on his new role in Dublin next month. He will join National Performance Services Manager, John Watson, and National Performance Pathway Manager, Andrew Reid, both already on staff, and will also work alongside Assistant Coaches Steven Beckerleg and Bethany Carson already on-site at Dublin.
Higson has been recognized as one of the most successful Scottish swimming coaches in recent years, having led the National Centre at the University of Stirling since the 2013/14 season. Last year along, Higson, along with Stirling coach Steven Tigg, was named as Sports Scotland’s Higher Performance Coach of the Year. He and Tigg earned the Sports Scotland Coaches Honor in 2016 as well.
At just 30 years of age, Higson has an impressive portfolio of athletes under his tutelage at Stirling, including now-retired Olympic medalist Robbie Renwick, European Champion and Olympic medalist Ross Murdoch, as well as European Open Water Champion Danielle Huskisson. Higson was part of Bill Furniss’ British coaching staff at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.
As for his new role, Higson states, “I am delighted to accept the position of National Senior Team Head Coach with Swim Ireland. The opportunity to challenge myself and work collaboratively with the swimming community throughout Ireland is extremely exciting. It has been a privilege to work at the University of Stirling with world-class coaches, athletes and support staff. Without the backing and investment of so many people I would not be in this position today. I will miss working with the athletes in Stirling and wish them and the coaching staff the very best for the future – but my efforts from September will be with Ireland and the National Centre (Dublin) and I strongly believe that we have the team in place to see this nation flourish on the world stage”.
Swim Ireland National Performance Director Jon Rudd comments, “The final piece of our jigsaw is now in place, ensuring us three full years in which we can focus on how we can deliver for Ireland in Tokyo 2020. Ben brings the coaching style and philosophy that we were looking for, an impeccable record and a drive and urgency that matches the rest of our Senior Leadership Team. Our international teams, our National Squad and our National Centre in Dublin will thrive under his guidance and I am excited to work with him and all of our other key players that we now have in place in allowing Irish swimming to perform at a new and consistent world-class level. To be able to offer Irish athletes the chance to work with this team on a daily basis means that not only will Ireland have a programme which is extra special for their own athletes but that we also have a daily coaching environment that will truly be the envy of world swimming”
On his contribution to Scottish Swimming, Scottish Swimming Performance Director, Ally Whike, states: “Ben has been an integral part of the development of the University of Stirling Performance Swimming Programme alongside his colleague Steven Tigg and has had a tremendously positive influence, helping to build and implement a quality coaching programme that delivered success at the very top-level of our sport. The University in partnership with Scottish Swimming will ensure that the high quality coaching programme offered at Stirling will continue with minimal disruption. Scottish Swimming is grateful for the contribution that Ben has made to the sport in Scotland over the past years and leaves with our best wishes for the future”.