Dolphin swimmer Hannah O'Shea is emerging as a real talent

The fifth-year student at Scoil Mhuire Gan Smál, Blarney has to balance her heavy training schedule with academic demands...
Dolphin swimmer Hannah O'Shea is emerging as a real talent

A delighted Hannah O'Shea after her 800m freestyle swim at the Scottish National Championships at Tollcross, Glasgow. Picture: Scottish Swimming.

UCC Marydyke Arena, together with media partners, Red FM, introduced an Emerging Talent Programme in 2017 to support talented athletes throughout the city and county fulfil their sporting potential. 

Now in its fifth year, the latest programme includes Hannah O’Shea, a member of Dolphin Swimming Club.

It's led by Sport Performance Manager, Jeff Gomez, and supports the athlete’s club programme by offering access to amenities at the Mardyke Arena, including, sports science, performance psychology, nutrition, lifestyle management and Athletic Development.

One of the eligibility criteria for the programme requested that athletes 'demonstrate a strong and ambitious mindset'. O’Shea impressed at interview, outlining details of her demanding training regime.


Under the guidance of Dolphin Head Coach, Mick McCormack, O’Shea’s club programme includes five two-hour pool sessions, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday from 5.30am to 7.30am. In addition, she has a two-hour pool session on Thursday 6pm to 8pm and doubles up on a Friday with an evening pool session from 5pm to 7pm.

In addition to her pool sessions, O’Shea has a two-hour gym session with her club on Saturdays, immediately following that morning’s pool session.

She heads to the Mardyke three days weekly, Monday to Wednesday for strength and conditioning workshops from 4.30pm to 5.30pm and continues on to a Reformer Pilates Class on Mondays until 6.30pm.

The fifth-year student at Scoil Mhuire Gan Smál, Blarney has to balance her heavy training schedule with the academic demands of her Leaving Certificate. The ETP assists Hannah and other participants by giving them aids to assist with the management of stresses and challenges encountered with trying to balance both pathways. Staff experienced in performance lifestyle are on hand to offer advice and encouragement and provide tips on how to best balance the academic/training life balance.

Cork swimmer Hannah O'Shea is highly rated in the sport. Picture: Jeff Gomez.
Cork swimmer Hannah O'Shea is highly rated in the sport. Picture: Jeff Gomez.

O’Shea has built a significant portfolio of achievements in recent years which culminated with her selection to the National Performance Squad in September 2020. The squad’s main focus is on Olympic Games, Paris 2024, but the immediate focus is on qualification to European Junior Championships and World Junior Championships in the current season. 

O’Shea’s current training is focused on a peak performance at the Irish Open Championships which will take place at the National Aquatic Centre, Dublin from April 19-23. The Open is the sole trials for qualification to summer international competition.

As with all athletes, ability to compete was severely impacted over the past two years. However, the focused and determined O’Shea did not allow the disruption impact on her goals. She competed at identified performance meets during the lockdown period.

A sprained ankle impacted her performance at the Irish Open in April 2021 but she bounced back with victory at 200m butterfly and a third-place finish at 100m butterfly at the Summer Open in Bangor, June 2021. In addition, she contested finals at 100m, 200m & 400m freestyle.

She again featured prominently at the Irish Short Course Championships, December 2021 with final appearances in each of her six events.


Most recently, O’Shea claimed double gold at the Munster Schools Competition with victory at 100m freestyle and 200m IM. Her performance at that meet guaranteed her selection to the Munster Interpro team to compete in Dublin next month.

O’Shea is currently in action in Bangor, at the first National competition of the season, the McCullagh International. Although currently on a rigorous training plan, with her taper not due to commence until early April, prior to the Irish Open, her performances will be closely watched by her coaches to assess where she stands at this point in the season.

Jeff Gomez explained the Emerging Talent is a programme designed to support and empower talented athletes to reach their goals. 

"The ETP programme offers a blend of educational contents, supervised and individualised S&C sessions as well as physio services and reformer classes. 

We put a strong emphasis on making the programme fit the athlete lifestyle as well as matching the athletes' goals and demands. 

"Hannah is undeniably a talented athlete and we are thrilled to be able to support her in her journey. She approached us with a clear goal and we are working closely with her on how we can make this goal attainable."

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