Walshe continuing drive towards Olympic dream

By Caitlin Rundle

WHEN Ellen Walshe was just seven years old she signed up for her very first swim lesson with Templeogue Swim Club.

Twelve years later, she’s earned herself a crack at qualification for the Tokyo Olympic Games.

Ellen Walshe 1

Templeogue Swim Club’s record-breaking competitor Ellen Walshe will certainly be hoping to make the most of the opportunity to secure Olympic Games qualification this year

At just 18-years-old, Walshe recorded Irish swimming history last year after she became the first female to set a sub-minute 100m Butterfly time.

“She’s smashing Irish records,” said head coach of Templeogue Swim Club, Brian Sweeney. “We hadn’t really had a chance to race since then. Then she almost took another Irish record again in December.

“There will be some monumental records, if she gets the chance to take them again” he insisted.

Walshe and Sweeney have, throughout the pandemic, continued to work together towards the goal of Olympic qualification, using Templeogue Swimming Club’s pool when restrictions permitted it.

“Because she lives close to the facility, she’s able to kind of maintain the bubble and the integrity of what we're doing on a day-to-day basis for primarily health reasons,” Sweeney explained.

“The pool closed mid March, so it was April, May, June and we were back in the end of June, and that was okay, because we were getting ready for a definitive end game in terms of competition in the summer, which then ultimately got postponed.

“In December, we were back to normal with everybody else, doing things differently obviously because she, as an individual, hasn’t had the breaks that the rest of them had.

“She’s in a different phase of training and ability than the rest of them are.

“She’s a very focused young lady, and look, it’s not easy.”

Sweeney said that while her focus is currently on qualifying for the Olympics, Walshe has also been able to ground herself with a concrete plan for the upcoming year.

She will be attending the University of Tennessee in the US in September of 2021 to continue her educational and athletic development.

“I think she said that decision for her kind of gave her clarity to this kind of current year, you know ‘the Olympics is still on and I know what’s happening in September of 2021,” Sweeney said. “It’s a bit more definite.

“It has probably made things easier to compartmentalise, that you can focus on the future when you have a definitive ‘I know what I’m going to be doing.’”

“Fortunately, the timing of a lot of these things has worked out,” Sweeney said. “We’re pretty much able to be back into doing the things that she needs to be doing.

“She’s 19 now this year, and the opportunity for the Olympics is still very, very visible” he stressed.

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