Countdown to Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games

Niamh Robinson

Athlete profile: Niamh Robinson

Sport: Swimming - Backstroke, Breaststroke, Butterfly, IM

Home town / Village: Darwen, England

Occupation: Student

Commonwealth Games Achievements:

Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games:

100m Breaststroke (1:15.74)

200m Breaststroke (2:40.00)

200m Individual Medley (2:23.75)

50m Backstroke (31.30)

50m Breaststroke (33.38)

50m Butterfly (29.30)

(Team Isle of Man, Glasgow 2014)

Samoa 2015 Commonwealth Youth Games:

200m Individual Medley (A Finals - 5th Position)

50m Breaststroke (A Finals - 5th Position)

100m Breaststroke (A Finals - 4th Position)

200m Breaststroke (A Finals - 7th Position)

50m Butterfly (B Finals)

100m Butterfly (B Finals)

50 Backstroke (B Finals)

When did you first represent Team Isle of Man at a Commonwealth Games?

I first competed at the 2014 Commonwealth games held in Glasgow at the age of 14, and the 2015 Commonwealth youth games held in Samoa when I was 15. 

How did you first begin Swimming?

I began attending swimming lessons at the age of 3 at my local leisure centre, and progressed to Pioneer'79 swimming club, aged roughly 7. I thoroughly enjoyed the sport, so much that I began competing when I was 9 and I guess my swimming 'career' started at this point. 

I decided that I would like to represent the Isle of Man at a young age. I would visit family 3 or 4 times per year and I became a member of Douglas swimming club. I loved swimming with different people and making new friends at every session and caught a glimpse of the opportunities my sport and the Island could provide in the future. In addition, my mum, who is Manx and swam for the Island in the 1990 Aukland Commonwealth Games, made me eligible to represent IOM. So I guess that I fell in love with Isle of Man swimming! 

Why do you compete and represent Team Isle of Man?

Swimming is a tough sport. You have to put in the hard work at training in order to get the results at major meets, as many sports persons could tell you. In my eyes, swimming is all about fair play, friendship, and self discipline. A swimmer is not only educated about the swimming which takes place in the pool, but about the gym work, the dietary and the mental wellbeing of themselves and others which is all part of the package. So the thing I think is the best about competing in my chosen sport, is that when the race is over, your opponents go back to being your friends.

How does it feel to represent Team Isle of Man at a Commonwealth Games?

When the Commonwealth games is mentioned, I remember the feeling of excitement, and butterflies in my stomach as I waited in the tunnel for 'Team Isle of Man' to be called at the opening ceremony. The sound of the crowd was deafening and the atmosphere was immense. I remember trying to look for my family as we walked out into the stadium, but it was impossible to identify anyone in the crowd. As we walked around the track, I spotted several IOM flags in the stands, and at that moment, my whole body filled with pride.

What has been your favourite sporting moment whilst involved with Team Isle of Man?

My favourite sporting moment as part of team IOM has to be competing in the 50m breaststroke and 50m backstroke semi-final in Glasgow, which was highly unexpected. The whole experience was exhilarating and to be swimming in a semi-final at the Commonwealth games just felt so unreal.

What has been your ultimate achievement in sport?

To date, I believe that my ultimate achieve in swimming, (second to representing IOM at the commonwealth games) is representing team GB at the Energy Standards meet, which took place in Italy. There, I won 2 bronze medals - 100m breaststroke and 200m IM, and 1 silver medal in the 50m breaststroke.

What one or two things do you currently do in your training that are keys to your success?

My training, which currently takes place at Pioneer'79 located in Accrington, is based on good technique within all 4 strokes as well as starts and turns. Issues with technique are identified closely on a Wednesday morning session where we spend an hour doing video analysis of our strokes and correcting those issues. I find this very beneficial towards my development and highly recommend this to other swimmers.

One of my favourite films growing up was cool runnings, and there's a really great quote from the coach, and it says;

'A gold medal is a wonderful thing, but if your not enough without it, you'll never be enough with it.'  

Have you had any key role models growing up? 

Yes, my role model is Sally Foster, an Australian Breaststroker who I had the pleasure of meeting at the Glasgow Commonwealth games. Sally is not only a professional sports person but is also an established children's author. She visits many schools and swim clubs around the country in order to encourage children to take up the sport or carry it on to a higher level. Foster competed at the Beijing 2008 and London 2012 Olympic Games and won a silver medal in Glasgow in the 200m breaststroke. Sally is one of the eldest members of the Australian swimming team at the age of 31. This inspires me because she is proof that age doesn't matter.

What has been the most significant challenge you have faced in your preparation leading up to a sporting event?

I believe that the biggest challenge leading up to a sporting event was jet lag before the Commonwealth youth games. As a team, we travelled 4 days before competition to Apia, Samoa. The difference in time was 12 time zones and I felt it was hard to adjust. To prepare myself the best I could for racing in 3 days time, I kept myself hydrated and tried to get as much sleep as possible. 

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What would be your advice for a young aspiring athlete aiming to represent Team Isle of Man?

'Hard work beats talent when talent doesn't work hard' a famous quote I know but this is what motivates me during training. Every session counts. Hard work is the only way a person achieves great things. When you are older and are unable to compete or even swim, you will regret not training hard and reaching your full potential. Never let yourself experience this kind of regret.

Where do you see yourself in the future? What aims do you have?

In the future, I intend to always be involved with swimming, whether that be a competitor or a coach.
I have goals set for my swimming career, as do many other people. The Olympic Games is definitely at the top of the pyramid as a long term goal, but I would much rather take my swimming career as it comes and rise to every occasion. I believe that I will know inside when I have reached my full potential and at that point, I will be complete. But at the moment, I know I still have a long way to go!