At the conclusion of the 2016 Olympics Swim Ireland will be going through some major restructuring at its highest level. The organization announced at the end of last week that they will be creating a new High Performance framework with the intention of cultivating a culture of excellence, which translates to medals at the highest level.
The only Irish swimmer to win an Olympic medal was Michelle Smith who won three gold (400 freestyle and 200 and 400 IM) and one bronze (200 butterfly) at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta.
“The Swim Ireland High Performance Programme has made considerable progress over the last number of years. The foundations for future success are in place and as a Board we have adopted this new framework for our High Performance Swimming Strategy so that we can build further on the strides we have made in recent times,” said Swim Ireland Chairperson Clare McGrath.
There will be seven areas that their new framework will be focusing on:
- athletes & athlete pathways
- daily performance environment
- camps & competitions
- personal excellence
- expertise led
- competitive advantage
The program will be led by a High Performance Director, the National Head Coach, Pathway Manager and Performance service manager.
The current National Performance Director Peter Banks will not be continuing in that role after September, which is when his current contract ends. Banks, who has been in the position since 2009, intends to spend more time with his family in America.
Banks is one of the most successful Irish coaches in the history of the sport. In 2015 he was inducted into the ASCA Hall of Fame and recently he was inducted into the Swim Ireland Hall of Fame.
Banks’ greatest success came when working with American athletes in Florida. He coached Brooke Bennett who won the 800 freestyle at the 1996 Olympics and then took the gold in both the 400 and 800 freestyle at the 2000 Olympics. He also coach Maritza Correia who won a silver medal as part of the American 4 x 100 freestyle relay at the 2004 Olympics.
Sarah Keane paid tribute to Peter and the work he has done in his role with Swim Ireland. “We are indebted to Peter for the passion and commitment he has brought to his role with Swim Ireland. He has overseen a 7 year period in Irish Swimming as Performance Director including 29 international medals. He is universally admired for his knowledge, abilities and personality. We wish him the very best for the future.”
The top two athletes in Ireland are Fiona Doyle and Connor Ferguson, who were named Irish swimmers of the year this weekend. Doyle won the silver in the 100 breaststroke and the bronze at the 50 breaststroke at the World University Games last summer while Ferguson won a gold, 2 silvers, and a bronze at the Commonwealth Youth Games in September.