New golden generation emerging, says Lindsay
Nelson Lindsay has been one of the top coaches in Northern Ireland swimming for the best part of 25 years and he believes there is a new generation emerging to rival any of those from the past.
In the early 1990s we were blessed with the likes of Marion Madine, Richard Gheel and Gareth Walker and then at the Commonwealth Games in 2002 there was a team including Andrew Bree, Julie Douglas and Emma Robinson.
In 2014, expectations for Commonwealth Games success will centre around Sycerika McMahon and Bethany Carson but it is four years hence that Lindsay believes their could be a potent team to match that of Manchester 2002.
"We had a golden generation in Manchester with Andy Bree, Emma Robinson, Michael Williamson and Julie Douglas and now I can see another golden generation emerging," said Lindsay, head coach at Ards and a former Commonwealth Games coach.
"When you look at the recent Ulster short course championships, there were a group of young teenagers who look as if they can be very good. Give them another four years and we'll have a team to match that of 2002.
"Conor Ferguson and Danielle Hill at Larne are very promising, you have Rachel Bethel at Lisburn, Mary Kate McDowell at Bangor and we have a few at our own club who are coming along very nicely. Ulster had a great performance at the British Age Group championships last summer and that is a good benchmark."
This weekend's Irish short course championships at Lagan Valley Leisureplex will see those young swimmers – including junior record holders Emma Reid, James Brown and Curtis Coulter of Ards – stepping up to take on the best around.
"Emma is a very good trainer, like all the ones in my squad. She is developing very well and her target is the European juniors next summer and if she makes it that would be a great achievement as she is a year young.
"Curtis is aiming for the Commonwealth Games, he's 19 but you won't see him starting to hit his peak for at least four years because he has to develop a lot physically."
As well as the talent emerging in Ulster clubs, Lindsay says the 50m pool in Bangor is also going to play a role in their development.
"I think having the 50m pool for the first time leading up to the Commonwealth Games is going to make it a bit easier in getting the times needed," added Lindsay.
"As a club we are training in it and it certainly helps with endurance."