Bryan holds out hope

One of Ireland’s leading swimmers has expressed hope that Swim Ireland can work again successfully with Gráinne Murphy and the University of Limerick.

As the Irish Examiner reported yesterday, the national governing body has seriously damaged its relations with both Murphy and UL after it unilaterally decided not to renew the contract of her UL-based coach Ronald Claes, leading to uncertainty about whether the facility will retain its high performance centre status.

However, the open water marathon swimmer Chris Bryan, who last year became the first Irish swimmer in nearly a decade to have a top-eight finish in a world championship event, believes Murphy could return to the pool in Limerick where he continues to train if Swim Ireland mends bridges with her and UL.

“We all need to take a step back and ask, ‘Look, four years from now, where do we want to be?’ And when we do we’ll realise we all have mutual goals. Maybe the situation with Ronald wasn’t handled ideally and led to a lot of uncertainty and speculation (about Limerick’s future) but I want everyone to start looking and moving forward and realise the great squad and support services we have down here in Limerick and what we can achieve.”

Bryan agonisingly missed out on making the London Olympics, finishing in a dead heat for the last qualifying spot when he finished joint 14th at a qualifying race in Portugal despite suffering from shingles.

But the 22-year-old Clare man is certain that he and Murphy can be medal contenders in Rio, especially if the high performance centre status of UL is retained and a quality replacement for the highly-rated Claes is found, as Bryan has been personally assured by Swim Ireland.

Since the departure of Claes, Swim Ireland’s national performance director Peter Banks has temporarily filled in as a coach at the UL high performance centre. And although Banks’ relationship with the college is currently strained after it was not consulted or properly informed about the non-renewal of Claes’s contract, Bryan believes both parties can work productively together again. “Now that Peter Banks is actually down here for a few months, it could be great for Limerick as it’s a brilliant opportunity for him to see what we have here.”

More in this section


Latest news from the world of sport, along with the best in opinion from our outstanding team of sports writers

Sign up