Wednesday 20 November 2019

'Ellen started swimming when she was just two'

Ellen Keane is competing in the individual medley today
Ellen Keane is competing in the individual medley today

Shane Hickey in London

WHEN swimmer Ellen Keane was born in 1995, her father Eddie could see there was something wrong with one of her arms.

During her development in the womb, the limb was pinched and did not fully advance like the rest of her body.

"I was standing there and Ellen came into the world. I could see her arm pumping, it was like a hand going up and down but her arm was pumping," Mr Keane said.

While classed as an amputee, the 17-year-old from Clontarf has never had an operation on her arm, which is described as being "undeveloped".

"We treated her exactly the same. She did the same as everyone else. When my other kids were starting to swim, we brought her to the pool when she was two years old," her father said.

"We asked the coach 'would Ellen be okay in the water?' and he took one look at her and said 'why wouldn't she?' He could see what we could not see.

"She just got into the pool and there she has been swimming since. There was never a problem."

Her progress in the pool led her to the 2008 Paralympics in Beijing, aged just 13.

Last week, she competed in the 100m butterfly final and will return to the pool today in the individual medley before finishing on Saturday in the 100m breaststroke.

The young woman has been training in the UK for the last two years and will return to Ireland after the games to do her Leaving Cert.

She has already done an A level in Physical Education in England.

"Ellen is like all of my kids, never a bit of trouble. Ellen has that little push more, she is more determined," Mr Keane said.

"She is always focused on what is ahead, not what is now. When she is home, her training schedule will be Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday -- she is poolside at 4.45am.

"It is the same in the evening for four evenings a week. On Saturday, she swims from 6am till 9am."

Irish Independent

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