FOR high performance athletes being prepared is non-negotiable. Paul Talty knows this all too well in his role as Head of Physical Preparation with Swim Ireland.
Talty works with Ireland’s finest swimmers to help them be physically ready for the challenges they will face every time they enter the pool.
Since Covid-19 hit Irish shores, being prepared has been more difficult than ever before.
When the Olympic Games were postponed last year, uncertainty for Ireland’s high performance athletes was at an all time high.
Talty admits there were times when he feared the Olympic Games would be cancelled.
“We all had the fears that the Games wouldn’t go ahead at some time along the way. From March to May last year there was a lot of uncertainty.
“High performance athletes were allowed to return to training in June of last year. However, as 2020 wore on there was a fear that our plans would be scuppered.”
“We all just had to plough on and prepare as if the Games were going ahead. The first lockdown was tricky, there’s no doubt about that.
“I was most impressed by the way the athletes just refocused immediately when we were allowed back.
“It’s a mark of the characters we have in the squad. They are a credit to themselves.”
WE HAVE AN OLYMPIC FINALIST!!!!!!!! pic.twitter.com/8tLNQVOxHy
— Leinster Swimming (@SwimLeinster) July 26, 2021
Preparing athletes for high pressured events is something the Lahinch man has vast experience in as he previously worked at the Sports Institute of Northern Ireland with the likes of former boxer Paddy Barnes.
“The beauty of my previous roles is that I’ve worked with athletes across a number of different sports. If you name a sport, there’s a good chance I’ve been involved with it.
“Working with different athletes helps when I’m doing physical preparation for our swimmers and it helps build leadership skills also.”
Talty, who was a member of Lahinch swimming club at underage level, admits his role with Swim Ireland was not something he targeted.
“I didn’t seek out a position like this. I had drifted away from the sport. I was working with the Sports Institute in Northern Ireland and I saw the post come up with Swim Ireland advertised. I got the job and it’s been enjoyable. The athletes are great to work with so it’s worked out.”
With Ireland sending a record nine swimmers to Tokyo, Talty believes swimming is in a healthy place right now.
“There is a lot of really nice work being done. There is still a way to go.
“We want to push on to where there is a level of expectation and break that glass ceiling by moving through the rounds. That’s the challenge for a lot of sports but we are moving in the right direction.”
What are the 34-year-old’s hopes for the team in Tokyo?
“The reality is we will probably need lifetime best performances to progress through the rounds. If we can get that then things can take on a life of their own.”
by Ivan Smyth