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Johnston is fired up to keep Ards on crest of a wave

By David Kelly

If there was ever a swimming coach you would not want to follow in the footsteps of, it is surely Nelson Lindsay considering his record of relentless success at Ards - but Davy Johnston is relishing the challenge.

Lindsay and fellow coach George Stevenson created a powerhouse in the co Down club when they took over in the mid-1990s, churning out a series of Commonwealth Games swimmers such as Andrew Bree, Michael Dawson and Curtis Coulter. Ards para-swimmer Barry McClements has virtually secured his place on the plane to the Gold Coast in April.

Now Johnston is hoping he can continue to have the club at the top of Irish swimming over the coming years, with Lindsay still playing a key role as he continues to assist in the development of their elite swimmers.

This weekend in the Ulster Open long course championships at Bangor Aurora, Johnston will be hoping to see his swimmers to the fore as Northern Ireland's top athletes enter the last chance saloon for Commonwealth Games selection.

"I have been working with Nelson Lindsay for a decade and without him I wouldn't have been able to take over as the head coach of a top club," said Johnston.

"I learned 25 per cent from coaching courses and 75 per cent from Nelson. The great thing for me is that Nelson and I can share things and we know it doesn't go any further. I would say that 90 per cent of what we discuss remains between us.

"Being head coach at Ards is a seven-day job - one week I clocked up between 40 and 50 hours. People just see you on the pool bank with a stopwatch but there's a lot more to it than that - countless emails and meetings to deal with - but that's all part of it when you have a club that has so much talent. I'd rather have it that way than not have the talented swimmers.

"Managing expectations is something that I learned from Nelson and just dealing with people who are naturally very passionate about their children doing well. Managing volunteers is another aspect that you have to learn as you go along - it's not like a job where someone is on £60,000 a year and if they're not doing the job you think they should be you can happily get rid of them, if you took that attitude you wouldn't have a functioning club.

"I'm very fortunate that Ards has a very good group of coaches. We have Steven McConnell helping at the senior end and every big house needs good foundations and we have Norma Munn organising our juniors so she makes sure we have a steady stream of talent coming through.

"We have a lot of very good young swimmers and I believe that there's not another club in Ireland that has the potential we have to bring through top senior swimmers."

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