Terminated high performance coach: I wanted to stay

Ronald Claes has denied that he resigned from his position with Swim Ireland (SI) at their high performance centre at the University of Limerick.

Swim Ireland had released a statement over the weekend saying the Belgian had ‘agreed to part company’ with the organisation but Claes himself denies this.

“I’m disappointed, I wanted to stay,” he said. “My goal was to do another four years in Ireland, I was at the end of my contract and I didn’t get a new one.”

The former Royal Belgian Swimming Federation head coach said that for many of the swimmers in UL, their futures are now unclear following what he believes to be a contract termination.

“For them everything is up in the air and they are left as the biggest victims of it all. I don’t have a job, but they are supposed to be getting back in the pool now and they don’t know what’s going on.

“Chris Bryan (Ireland’s top open-water swimmer) has his European Championships and two weeks before that he’s without a coach. The timing of it is far from perfect.”

UL pool manager Alan Ward is not impressed with the situation and the lack of communication between all parties including Swim Ireland.

Speaking of the decision, of which he was informed of by text, Ward said: “They (SI) are entitled to do their business, but we’re meant to be a partnership,” he said.

“Ronald had the role within UL so we thought we might have been given the heads-up on what was happening. Ronald is going to be a huge loss to Irish swimming.”

The news also puts a huge question mark over the future of Ireland’s Claire Murphy who has trained with the Belgian coach since she was 14.

The 19-year old won three European junior titles in 2009 and a European senior silver medal in 2010 but she had a disappointing Olympics in London due to illness.

Claes departure from Limerick could prompt a move abroad for Ireland’s Murphy, a move which would be detrimental to the development of swimming within the island of Ireland at grassroots level.

SI have announced that plans are in place to have an interim manager appointed quickly and they also took time to thank Claes for his work with the Irish set-up.

They thanked the Belgian and acknowledged that he “worked very hard and been extremely dedicated and committed to the programme and has contributed immensely to the building of a strong performance centre at the University of Limerick.”

Swim Ireland also stated that upon his return from America, national performance director Peter Banks will evaluate the programmes of all the high performance centres, including UL, with a view to moving forward towards the Olympic Games in Rio in 2016.

William Hill Sports


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