Swim Ireland PD Jon Rudd In Call For Elite Swimmers To Be Able To Return To The Pool

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Jon Rudd - Photo Courtesy: Jon Rudd

Swim Ireland performance director Jon Rudd has called for the nation’s Olympic and Paralympic swimmers to be able to return to the pool.

Rudd’s plea came shortly after the Team Ireland Athletes’ Commission echoed the request by the Olympic Federation of Ireland for exemptions to be offered to a small number of elite athletes with Tokyo 2021 in their sights.

This would be in the form of a travel exemption with current guidelines in Ireland limiting to 5km the distance people can travel to participate in sporting activities and the government advising people to stay home as much as possible.

They have also requested that Sport Ireland and national governing bodies be allowed to reopen the Sport Ireland campus, Sport Ireland Institute and national training centres around the country for small groups of athletes.

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Photo Courtesy: Swim Ireland

While recognising that health, wellbeing and safety is paramount, Rudd has urged that a small  number of elite swimmers with Tokyo 2021 in their sights be allowed to return with strict protocols in place.

In an interview with the Irish Mirror, Rudd said:

“We have prepared very careful protocols for what is an extremely microscopic section of our population to be able to return safely to identified training venues that the public wouldn’t have access to.

“But there’s a blockage that we all have to try to get over somehow.

“There’s also the consideration that we have to have around the mental health of our athletes at this time.”

Elite swimmers in the Netherlands and Italy are among those already back in the water and Rudd wants to ensure his own athletes including the likes of European bronze medallists Mona McSharry and Shane Ryan do not fallen behind their rivals in terms of preparation and the consequent ripple effect.

The athletes were provided with equipment and personal training programmes when lockdown first came into effect but now Rudd fears they have been overtaken.

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Mona McSharry: Photo Courtesy: Swim Ireland

Rudd said:

“We felt we were still ahead of the game.

“But the moment that nations started to get back into the water, there’s no real direct replacement for that – it’s the medium in which we have to do most of our training.

“We know that they’re getting a step on us. Advantage has turned from that to a bit of a disadvantage and our athletes are quite aware of that.”

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