Driven Doyle hoping to make another giant leap

Baby steps is how swimmer Fiona Doyle described her approach to the tomorrow’s World Championships, each swim an opportunity to close the gap on the pool’s elite.

It doesn’t really add up though. Not when the 21-year-old has spent the past few months taking one giant leap after another, a string of national records, accentuated by a silver medal at the World University Games.

Having played a supporting role to Gráinne Murphy and Sycerika McMahon in recent years, Doyle started the move to centre-stage by breaking the Irish 200m breaststroke record in March, before wiping clear McMahon’s name from the 100m equivalent.

Travelling to the World University Games then, Doyle realised a medal with well within the realms of possibility.

“I knew it was going to be tough. The competition was significantly better than they have been at the Games in other years,” she said. “It was so much stronger because countries were sending either their best team or their second best team.”

Third at the turn in the 100m breaststroke final, the Portmarnock native produced a terrific finishing spurt to secure silver with a time of 1.07.66. “I knew I had a 1.07.6 in me, the goal was to do that at the World Championships. We knew that it would take a 1.07 to win a medal.

“I touched the wall thinking I hadn’t won a medal, to turn around then and see not only had I won a medal, I had won silver, and then to realise I had bettered my previous best time by .6 of a second, that was fantastic. I was looking back at the board thinking, ‘Did I really do that?’”

Returning for the 50m breaststroke, Doyle’s bid for a second medal came up short, a hundredth of a second to be precise. But for her, the advantage of regular competition against the world’s elite has made the year.

“It is the programme that works for me and I am happy with that. I am getting the most out of my swimming. You have to be happy where ever you are training otherwise you won’t get the most out of yourself.

“I just happen to be lucky that where I am based has some of the top swimmers in the world. I can also travel down to the States and swim there against some of the top swimmers in the world.

“The focus for worlds is just to keep the head and turn out a really good heat swim. Having that 1.07.6 behind me I know I am capable of going that fast again. I swim really well at heats so knowing that I can do that time gives me confidence that I can produce that swim at the World Championships where I know I have to swim fast if I want to progress to the semi-finals.”

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