The harsh economic climate has hit every aspect of life including sport and Bethany Carson knows all about trying to live out her dream against the odds.
The Lisburn woman has been based at the Swim Ireland Performance Centre in Dublin for the past 18 months in which time she has stretched herself to a new level but the all-round commitment, including financially, is very demanding.
Commonwealth Games swimmer Bethany, 20, passed up the chance to compete at the European short course championships in France this week in order to focus on a block of training which will only be broken by competing at next week’s Irish championships in Lisburn’s Lagan Valley Leisureplex.
While always a top Ulster and Irish performer, Carson has raised her game and her potential was highlighted earlier this year when she broke the 16-year-old 100m butterfly long course record of Olympic gold medallist Michelle Smith.
“Moving to the NAC in Dublin was a massive help for me because of the accessibility to the pool and also the strength and conditioning but it has been hard being away from family and friends and it is very costly,” said Carson.
“I really couldn’t have done it without my mum (Gilly) and dad (Michael) paying for everything — my apartment, food.
“When I did get some funding earlier this year from Sport NI it was a big help but I can understand why a lot of young sports people just give up before they reach their true potential because it’s so hard financially.
“It’s very hard to get funding and I can’t thank my parents enough but in saying that I am at an age now when I feel I shouldn’t have to ask them for money.”
While Carson is enjoying her time with Swim Ireland coaches Paul Donovan and Peter Banks, she is expected to be one of the first Ulster swimmers to be based at the new 50m pool in Bangor from next year.
“The plan is to base myself at the High Performance unit in Bangor with Andy Reid, the Ulster High Performance coach from February or March,” added Carson.
“I had taken time out from my studies at Jordanstown but I will return to that next year. I’ve worked with Andy before, he was my coach at Lisburn, so I know that we can work very well together.”
Not only does Carson have to handle the financial pressures and the early morning training which goes with her sport but she also happens to be an asthmatic.
“I’ve already had two chest infections and the ’flu, that’s just something that I have to live with. And on top of that a couple of weeks ago someone crashed into the back of my car when I was on my way to training! I pulled a few muscles but it could have been a lot worse.
“But I’m loving my swimming at the moment and I am on a four year cycle — I want to be in Rio in 2016 and of course the Commonwealth Games in 2014. Next year is going to be exciting because I will be aiming to qualify for the World championships in Barcelona and the World University Games in Russia.”