After 30 years living and coaching in Florida Peter Banks took up the role of High Performance Director with Swim Ireland in 2009. Peter had been the Irish Swimming team’s Assistant Coach in 1988 Irish Olympic Squad and went on to coach Brook Bennett of the US to 3 gold’s at the Atlanta and Sydney Olympics before taking up his role with Swim Ireland four years ago.
FIS: It has been a really busy and successful year for your swimmers, what have been the highlights for you?
PB: Fiona Doyle winning a silver medal at the WUG has to be the highlight of the summer. The overall performances of the over 30 swimmers that competed in the various International events. The 4 swimmers that competed at the World Championship with 4 top 16 placings the best in over 20 years by Irish swimmers. Also the development of our younger swimmers showed in the results of our swimmers at the British Age group and youth Olympics.
FIS: What changes did you make or systems did you put in place when you first took up your role with Swim Ireland?
PB: I focused on a couple of areas,
1, Qualifying standards for International events
2, Fina A standards for Olympic Qualifying
3, putting together a National Youth program.
4, Developing the performance centres
5, coach education and mentoring
I think these 4 areas were the first steps of the program; we have continually updated these areas in the last 3 years and continue to grow the program to help develop a sustainable program. That will continue to deliver success over the years.
FIS: How long does it take for the success to start being seen on the podium?
PB: I believe that it takes at least 2 Olympic cycles (8 years) to see podium performances at the Olympic and World level.
FIS: With the new 50m pools in Dublin and Limerick, is it now possible for swimmers to train in Ireland and compete at the highest level?
PB: I think with the facilities we have in the country now, we have the ability to offer viable alternative to going abroad to swimmers With the level of coaching now available I believe we can compete with the best programs. We still have some work to do regarding linking into universities and are working hard on this.
FIS: What advice would you give to any young athlete hoping to make a career in high performance Swimming?
PB: I think swimming at the highest level of our sports requires a great deal of commitment and desire. I think any parent that has child that wants to peruse that option in this sport visit a performance centre and talk to the coach and understand how they can get involved. It is very rewarding if you achieve the international standards to represent your country at highest level. Through that journey you also develop skills that will stand to you for a life time.
FIS: Many thanks for taking the time to talk to us, finally what are Swim Ireland’s goals for the High Performance swimming system over the coming years?
PB: Our overall goal for this quadrant will be to a medal at Olympic or World Level and continue to have medallist’s at the European level
For more information on Swim Ireland, read here: www.swimireland.ie
Follow Peter Banks: @pbanks4583 @swimireland