Monday 5 December 2016

Doyle happy to be the standard-bearer

Mark O'Driscoll

Published 03/08/2015 | 02:30

Ireland's Fiona Doyle in attendance at a Pre-World Championships Swimming briefing. National Aquatic Centre, Dublin
Ireland's Fiona Doyle in attendance at a Pre-World Championships Swimming briefing. National Aquatic Centre, Dublin

Fiona Doyle is comfortable at being the standard-bearer for Irish swimming, and hopes she can inspire others to strive for success in the pool.

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The Limerick woman will start her campaign at the World Championships in Kazan today, having had her confidence boosted by qualifying for the Rio Olympics and winning two medals at the World University Games a fortnight ago.

The breaststroke specialist believes she has had "a perfect year so far" on the back of her recent successes, as well as being named the Canadian Female Swimmer of the Year at their college championships when representing the University of Calgary.

The move to Canada five years ago led to Doyle taking her swimming to a new level, despite the pain of missing out on qualification for London 2012.

"When I made my decision to go to Canada it was more to do with my mental state than swimming," she said.

"Personally, I needed to go. I needed to do something different and it has worked for me but I see no reason why someone based in Ireland cannot do what I'm doing.

"Over the past five years things have changed a lot in Irish swimming - it has improved a lot. I just think the junior swimmers need to realise when they become seniors that they can compete with the best in the world.

"The biggest problem for Irish swimming is that move from junior to senior because we just don't seem to have the confidence in ourselves.

"Too many go to meetings and look around and just think 'these people are so much better than me' when they're not. I hope that I can be an inspiration to the younger swimmers and help them believe that they can dream big.

"I always felt in Ireland it was almost a taboo subject to say you wanted to go to the Olympics one day - that you weren't allowed to think like that because you were too young - it shouldn't be like that and I was never like that.

"I wanted to go to the World Championships and the Olympics and I've done it, and if I can help younger kids in any way, I will.

"We should encourage our kids to have the confidence to believe they can achieve their goals."

Now 23, Doyle (pictured below) has already marked off three of her targets for the season, with the collegiate success in Canada and securing her passage to Rio as well as the medals she won at the World University Games, and she wants to set a high standard in Kazan.

"Getting the time for Rio took a lot of pressure off me and I'm going into the Worlds feeling very good," explained the former pupil of Crescent College Comprehensive.

"I want to go and improve on my times and my expectation is to make the semi-finals in all my breaststroke events.

"A final is a very big goal but I feel it is not unattainable."

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