Coach Harley wants swimmers 'focused and confident'

Published 4:00pm 14 July 2021

Coach Harley wants swimmers 'focused and confident'
Words by Nick Crockford

Coach Harley Connolly has a simple message for his swimmers ahead of the Tokyo Paralympic Games (August 24-September 5).

“We are going there to race, not be spectators or look around,” said Connolly, Head Coach at Burpengary Aquatic Centre.

The Bribie resident is going to his second Paralympics with Australia’s coaching team having been at Rio in 2016 and the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

Good Games

Brenden Hall and Lakeisha Patterson have been with him since 2012 and 2016 respectively and like Connolly, with the Belgravia team  in Burpengary since 2019.

In Tokyo, Hall and Patterson will prepare with Connolly and two other swimmers appointed to the coach.

“They swam well in the trials and have set themselves up for a good Games,” said Connolly, who coached at Lawnton before moving up the highway.

“We’ve still got some time and are in a good position physically and mentally.”

Coach Harley wants swimmers 'focused and confident'
Coach Harley Connolly with Brenden Hall and Lakeisha Patterson at Burpengary. All three are now based at the Sunshine Coast.

Cairns camp

The focus on Australia’s Paralympic swimmers will then sharpen in a pre-Games camp at Cairns before they fly to Tokyo.

“It’s not just coaching to a physical fitness level, it’s mental as well,” said Connolly, the Australian Swimming Coaches and Teachers' Association Multi-Class Coach of the Year in 2019.

“It’s making sure they are mentally and physically fit when on the blocks … composed and focused, confident.

“(As a coach) you can worry for them, but cannot show your nervousness, you don’t want it to rub off on them.

Benchmark meets

“I’m usually pretty composed and not much phases me in the competition arena. But, I’m absolutely happy to celebrate with them!

“I look forward to the big benchmark meets. They are what motivates me to coach day in day out, seeing athletes progress and perform at each one.”

Connolly, like the swimmers, will be in the Games bubble and follow strict COVID rules and regulations, before leaving and in Japan.

“We’ll get an idea of the position from the Olympic team,” said the 2016 Paralympic Program Coach of the Year, “they will show us how it works.”

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