TROJAN Swimming Club’s Jonathan Preston is hopeful the club’s work outside of the pool will be rewarded when they finally get a chance to get back into the water after a really tough year for the sport.
The club coach will see one of his young protégés in action in April with Grace Hodgins contesting the national team trials at the National Aquatic Centre from April 20 to 24.
The competition will comprise of a full Olympic programme with heats, semi-finals, and finals in all 50m, 100m and 200m events and heats and finals in 400m, 800m and 1500m events.
It is designed to give simmers the chance to meet qualification standards for the 2021 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games, the 2021 LEN European Championships in Budapest in May, the FISU World University Games in China in August and the LEN European Junior Championships in July in Rome.
The latter event is Hodgins’ focus and Preston is thrilled to see her be eligible to train to try and get qualification times in 400m, 800m and 1,500m freestyle.
“Speaking to her every week, she is very upbeat,” Preston told the Dublin Gazette. “She’s had a couple of racing opportunities in Limerick over the last couple of weeks and is getting close to personal bests and even did a PB in the 1,500.”
On the flip side, times have been tough on the club front with members unable to get into the pool for over a year now.
Swim Ireland have been successful in expanding the amount of athletes classed as elite and, therefore, able to avail of an exemption from current restrictions to allow them to train at the NAC.
But, inevitably, having such a threshold will always see some top athletes on the outside looking in, something Preston is acutely aware of.
“We have kids back in our home programmes who haven’t been able to train and there are very capable individuals who just haven’t had the opportunity.
“We just hope all our online endeavours manages to mitigate against the damage done by the 12 months out of the pool.
“The kids are great and the guys back at home now understand their first six months is going to be a piece of getting back to where they were.
“They are under no illusions that it might take up to two years to start looking at lifetime bests again.
“We’re more than happy to take that on. Swimming doesn’t get the publicity but these guys work six, seven or eight times online, hoping and praying they have something to come back to. And they will, it’s just been difficult.”
For Preston, he would dearly love for the end of April as a target for a return to the water.
“These people are sportspeople, they want to be in that environment. They are getting frustrated at not being in the environment they chose.
“We continue to train online, to do sessions with guest speakers and try and do as much learning as we can so that when we do get back in the pool, we are in the best state we can be.”
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