In-form Melanie Nocher is feeling brand new
Melanie Nocher almost feels re-invented as she counts down to the European senior championships in Budapest next month.
Having switched to new coach Ian Armiger at Loughborough University, the top backstroker now feels better than ever in just about every aspect of her career.
In addition to that, the Belfast woman has finally had a period of training where she has been injury-free and sickness-free as the past two or three years have seen her dogged by various ailments.
Now Nocher seems more relaxed and mature about her swimming as she approaches what will likely be her peak years in the sport, leading up to London 2012.
The 22-year-old, who will arrive at the Irish championships this weekend for her main event, the 200m backstroke before travelling off to the Irish training camp in Slovenia for the Europeans, has already proved to herself the effects of a re-invigoration under the watchful eye of Armiger.
“I competed in Cardiff recently and did a 2:12.9 and my PB is 2:12.14 and that was when I had one of the different suits on. So I was really pleased with that time because I wasn't shaved or tapered,” said Nocher (below)
“I just feel in better shape than I have ever done. I'm fitter than ever, I'm eating better and my passion and desire has never been greater.
“Ian has just been fantastic for me. It's nothing against any of the other coaches at Loughborough but I just needed a change and he has just been great.
“We clicked right away and he's getting the best out of me.
“He has a great knowledge of the sport, he's tough but at the same knows how to pick you up if you're not feeling great. Swimming can be very tough, you need to have a great motivation because the training can be a real grind but I have that drive.
“I've had a lot of illnesses and injuries but this training block could not have gone any better and that just helps my confidence as well. I've also got my own website, run by Silver Hatch Sports and just got a sponsor for my kit so everything's great.
“Now I've got the Irish championships and I'm really looking forward to going home and competing and meeting up with people I haven't seen for a while.
“Then it's the Europeans and I can't wait to go in there and give it my best shot. Europe has been very fast so I'll have to hit a PB and if I do that I'll be very happy.”
The Irish championships start today at the NAC with Ulster swimmers Andrew Bree Ryan Harrison, Ashleigh Hyland, Conor Leaney, Sycerika McMahon, Michael Dawson and Steven McQuillan among others expected to pick up medals.