Performance Nutrition

It is essential that our athletes make the correct nutrition choices to maximise their ability to train and perform. We believe in a two-fold approach which equips them with the knowledge of knowing what to eat and when to eat it, combined with the skills required to effectively prepare food which they enjoy. This is supported by our work with the Sport Ireland Institute and the Sport Northern Ireland Sports Institute.

Diet affects performance in all events, and the foods that we choose in training and competition will affect how well we train and compete. Athletes need to be aware of their nutritional goals and of how they can select an eating strategy to meet those goals.

Diet may have its biggest impact during training, and a good diet will help support consistent intensive training while reducing the risk of illness or injury. Good food choices can also optimise the adaptations in muscle and other tissue in response to the training stimulus. Athletes are all different, and there is no single diet that meets the needs of all athletes at all times. Individual needs also change across the season and athletes must be flexible to accommodate this.

Getting the right amount of energy to stay healthy and to tolerate the often large training volume is a key goal of the everyday diet. Consume too much energy and body fat increases: too little and performance falls and illness results. Developing the perfect physique requires careful integration of training and diet.

Performance Physiology

Ensuring the appropriate training is prescribed to our athletes is a vital part of maximising the performance potential of our nation and it is key that we use physiological methods to achieve visibility of individual athlete training response and stress balance (TSB).

Performance physiology (swimming) is offered through the integrated expertise provided through our partnership with the Sport Ireland Institute and world leading experts in the National Centre (Dublin). This is implemented through a structured programme of training which is differentiated, based on the individual needs of the athlete according to their age, gender and preferred racing event(s). While training prescription is one important part of the physiological puzzle, the other key component is in assessing the ability of the athlete to be able to tolerate training load. With this information at hand, we are able to make informed coaching decisions which will maintain an effective training stress balance (TSB).

Performance Psychology

Performance at the highest level of our sport is determined by a complex combination of mental and physical factors and the mind-set of the athlete is of huge importance both in training and competition.

The psychological approach taken by Swim Ireland is one which aims to support the development of the mental qualities required by an individual to thrive in both their daily performance environment (DPE) and also within the competitive arena. Through work with several experts in the field of performance psychology, we deliver a combination of group based and individual sessions to our key athletes through all three of our National Centres.

Performance Life-Skills

Our belief is that in order to achieve sporting success,any athlete needs to effectively manage all aspects of their life. Providing formal support in this area is vital.

Through our work with the Sport Ireland Institute, our athletes are able to access support from a group of practitioners who are specialised in the area of performance life-skills. Given the unique and significant scheduling demands on swimmers and divers, this is an essential part of the performance process which aims to equip athletes with the tools required to manage challenges away from the pool, whilst supporting them with associated education, transition and retirement planning.

Performance Analysis

Utilising any opportunity to achieve insight into swimming and diving performance is vital and the Swim Ireland Performance Analysis System aims to use innovative in-arena filming and analysis techniques to support technical and in-competition improvements in our top athletes.

The use of performance analysis within swimming and diving began in the 1990’s and has developed along with advances in video technology since then. By breaking a race down into its constituent parts, specific objective data of the technical components of a race can be analysed. This data is critical to the coach and athlete as it can be used to enhance training and competitive performance. In swimming, each race is broken down into its constituent parts i.e. swim speed, stroke length, stroke rate, starts, turn, finish times. This data can then be used to create a measure of current performance against which any improvement can be benchmarked. This also allows the coach to clearly identify areas within the race where improvements can be made e.g. turns are too slow. These areas can then be targeted during the next training cycle into the next benchmark meet.

Strength & Conditioning

It is essential when competing at the highest level in the 21st century world of swimming & diving that a well-designed program of physical training is delivered to our best performance and performance pathway athletes.

The philosophy behind our strength and conditioning approach is one which utilises the information achieved within performance analysis and physiological testing to develop and deliver physical training programmes aligned with individual athlete deficiencies and requirements. The training prescribed within the gym is delivered across several key areas including strength development, force expression, metabolic conditioning and imbalance resolution. It is essential well integrated with the pool based training programme. Managing interference within the training week and ensuring that there is scope to modify training load on a live as-needs basis across domains is also vital given the differences in individual training responses. At our three National Centres, we can provide access to the best available technologies and facilities with our full-time and in-touch athlete cohorts, thanks to our partnership with the Sport Ireland Institute and the Sport Northern Ireland Sports Institute and contracted staff.

Performance Rehabilitation and Physiotherapy

The provision of proactive physiotherapy support is an essential part of the performance puzzle, in conjunction with the sometimes-necessary reactive treatment. It is vital that practitioners with such expertise in this area are engaged as proactive members of the support services team. The physiotherapy practitioner should work alongside both the swimming/diving coach and the S&C coach in addressing athlete physical limitations and/or weaknesses which both contribute to time loss from training and inhibit peak performance.

We work closely with a team of highly qualified and experienced physiotherapists who are very much integrated in the athlete planning process. This generates headline goals closely linked to unlocking each athlete’s potential. Through the utilisation of data generated within race-analysis and during physical screening, this team of individuals are responsible for two primary outcomes. The first is in aiming to achieve minimal time loss from pool and land based training through issues with imbalance, limited stability and mobility. We utilise a broad range of techniques to support improvement where requited. The second is to directly impact on performance in key areas of start, turn and stroke mechanics (in swimming) by assisting with the attainment of effective positioning and strength co-ordination. Through applying this philosophy in line with other pool and land based interventions the value of the physiotherapist cannot be understated.