FINN McGeever is the first to admit that the postponement of the Olympic Games to this year was a “blessing in disguise”, writes Ivan Smyth
Despite travelling to Tokyo at the tender age of 20, the swimmer from Ballina, Killaloe, is able to reflect on the past 15 months and acknowledge that the first lockdown last March gave him an opportunity to get himself in the best shape possible.
“Back in 2020 it wasn’t looking too great for me making that team. Obviously, things changed this time around. The lockdown worked out so well for me swimming-wise. It gave me time to make my breakthrough to the next level. It was a blessing in disguise.”
The second year student at the University of Limerick (UL) believes the lockdowns allowed him to find a new perspective and enjoy swimming more.
“First year (in college) I went too heavy on the training side. One of my issues was that I was almost taking it too seriously. You need a find a balance and enjoy it too. If you start to take your life and swimming too seriously you start to not like swimming as well so there has to be a healthy balance.
“This year there was no distractions. It was all online so I had my own schedule.
“I could rest after training so this year was so good for swimming. No distractions, no nights out but I also made sure I enjoyed myself.
“One of the themes of this year was that I was going through it very care-free. Just seeing where the tide would take me. I just made sure I enjoyed what I was doing and it really worked well for me so that’s going to be my theme going forward.”
At the start of last year, McGeever was rehabilitating a broken arm which was impacting on his ability to train and compete.
“It was a lot of work to rehab the arm but I suppose it still wasn’t fully healed by the time the first lockdown came.
“I had three or four months of completely different training. My body probably got the chance to fully heal. Since I came back, I was able to do everything as normal.
“I’ve done some training over lockdown. I did some lake swimming with my mum (Roisin) and some boxing which was different to the nine sessions and the 20 plus hours in the pool a week. That seemed to work out for me as I came back a faster swimmer so from then on it started getting better.”
The Mathematics and Physics student at UL will be part of the 4x200m relay team in Tokyo. Despite this he also broke the 400m Irish record when competing at the national Championships.
“I was laid back going in to it as the 200m was the night before and I’d done a really good job on it. I was happy going in to the 400m. I was care-free. The Olympic trials was in the 200 and I was laser focused on that so I’d done what I needed to do. It just worked out for me.”
McGeever knows the relay team are not favourites to compete for medals heading to Tokyo but he is keen on embracing the pressure only the Olympic Games can bring.
“We qualified and it’s amazing but we are probably the 16th best team in many people’s eyes. We are just going to go in and swim as fast as we can. I want to take the whole experience in.”