Tuesday 25 June 2019

Rising star Hyland driven by boxing success of cousins

Brendan Hyland pictured at the announcement of Tesco Ireland's two-year sporting sponsorship of Swim Ireland. ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan
Brendan Hyland pictured at the announcement of Tesco Ireland's two-year sporting sponsorship of Swim Ireland. ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

Growing up surrounded by champion boxers, Brendan Hyland could so easily have gone down a different sporting path.

First cousins Paul and Patrick had successful careers during which they were both national champions at different weight divisions, and while Brendan often trained with them, his mother was adamant he wouldn't be lacing up gloves.

Growing up in Knocklyon, Hyland would travel to a pool in Balrothery, north County Dublin and it wasn't long before he caught the swimming bug.

"My Mam didn't want my Dad to put me in the boxing ring," the 24-year-old smiles.

"I played football and stuff as well but I was never as into it. When I got to 14, I just started concentrating on swimming.

"I have trained with boxers, but I have never actually been in a fight. I used to go over in the summers when I was younger to do a bit of training.

"I think a lot of the mental toughness from training with them has helped. The skills are transferable.

"I could go in now and train with the boxers and I would probably get punched but you take the mental skills and it does stand to you.

"They used to always say to me, 'no matter how hard your 200-metre butterfly is, it's not the same as someone trying to knock you out!' But it's cool, it has definitely stood to me."

That mental toughness Hyland has built up over the years will be crucial over the coming months as he sets his sights on qualifying for next year's Olympic Games.

These are busy times as he juggles the final year of his accounting and finance degree in DCU while also increasing his work load in the pool as July's World Championships in Korea loom large on the horizon.

The event is the first chance Team Ireland will get to book their place in Tokyo and Hyland is pushing hard.

He is the current Irish record-holder in the 100 and 200m butterfly as well as the 200m and 400m individual medley.

For Hyland, it is now all about transferring that form to the global stage.

"When I first set the 200-metre butterfly record, I was like 17 and it was 2:01," Hyland explains.

"Through the last five or six years, I have dropped to 1:57 and then the Olympics is 1:56, so I still have a little bit to go, but it's well doable.

"It's cool to think that we are the ones bringing it (standard) forward.

"When I was real young, I remember looking at Irish records and being like, 'that would be absolutely mad to get one of them.'"

That kind of next-job focus is all part of the mental fortitude, which he believes he developed from his boxing cousins. It will be just as vital over the next few weeks as Hyland looks to keep his emotions in check in his bid to peak in Korea.

"Obviously it would be unbelievable to get on the team straight away, but I try not to give it any energy until the warm-up, 90 minutes from the race. Otherwise you end up exhausted.

"I have done that before, you do get too nervous and use up too much energy, so I try enjoy the experience and the buzz.

"The Olympics is what gets you up early every morning. The whole buzz is about qualifying for Tokyo. I will embrace it."

Irish Independent

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