Swimming: Birthday girl Bethany is a class apart
Bethany Carson has been celebrating her birthday in style today having just raised the bar in her development as one of Irish swimming's most promising talents.
The Lisburn teenager, who turned 16 today, simply eats and sleeps swimming and so while others may have enjoyed a party today, Carson was seen in the Lisburn pool at 5.15 am and back there again between 5pm and 8pm, having done her day's work at school.
Last week she produced an outstanding performance in the 1500m which placed her third in the current European senior standings.
While the short course season is only four months old, Carson's Lisburn coach Andrew Reid points out: "After December everyone is then focused on the long course season."
Carson clocked an Irish junior record of 16:53.06, smashing the previous best set by Sinead Tyrrell in 2002, 16:53.06. The stunning time, an Ulster senior record, is also just six seconds off the senior record held by Michelle De Bruin.
Having clocked that time on Friday night at the Grove in the second series of the Potential Olympians Series, she returned the following day to set Ulster junior records for the 200m free and 400m free.
Carson's time of 2:04.38 for the 200m free cracked the previous best held by Melanie Nocher, who clocked 2:04.45.
That was followed up by a superb swim in the 400m free when she broke the 21-year-old record of Commonwealth Games finalist Marion Madine, clocking 4: 22.68. Madine's best was 4:23:50.
This stunning display follows on from her record-breaking performances at the first Potential Olympian series when she set an Irish junior record for the 800m free, 8:53.20, which was also an Ulster senior record by a whopping three seconds, previously held, set in 1995.
Carson also set Ulster junior records in the 50m free, 27:03 and 100m butterfly, 1:04.04, which had been held by Clare Dawson and Melanie Nocher respectively. She also set a new Ulster junior record of 2:19.04 for the 200m 'fly, beating her own previous best of 2:20.08.
Carson, now receiving support as a SCNI Athlete support, also performed well in the summer at the European junior championships in Antwerp as well as the British Open/Youths championships, where she made seven finals.
Coach Reid said: "I have to say that Bethany has simply been outstanding and in my view she is way ahead of schedule this year as she is still in heavy training.
"She did that 1500 record on Friday night after doing 50,000m training that week, including training that morning. And then to return to the pool next day and set two more records when not tapered was just fantastic.
"He fitness levels are superb and there are three or four swimmers in the club I have working with me and they have the same attitude and dedication. You can see it in their fitness as well.
"The great thing is that there is so much more to come from Bethany and she is setting junior and Irish records and still has another year as a junior. Her 1500m time would have qualified her for next month's European championships in Hungary.
"The way she concentrates on her swimming and her desire to improve is an example to every other swimmer."