Sutton and Walsh: A top combination
Tokyo might be the long-term goal for Ben Walsh, but for now it’s all about Porirua.
The 17-year-old is in a group of eight swimmers who have been identified by High Performance Sport New Zealand as key prospects for the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.
He is taking this year off after finishing at Tawa College in December to concentrate on the high performance programme and goals at several national and international meets.
‘‘It’s going to be a big year,’’ he said.
‘‘I’m adding more work in the gym and training hard.
‘‘Doing well at nationals and qualifying for the junior worlds in Singapore in October is important. It seems like about every six weeks I’ll be competing in Australia.’’
One of his big aims is to knock a second off his favoured 100m breastroke time.
With Walsh, every step of the way will be his long-time coach and Porirua City Aquatics stalwart, Nevill Sutton.
Sutton joins Walsh – whose favoured events are breaststroke and the individual medley – for up to 10 sessions a week.
The pair get regular visits from High Performance New Zealand representatives, which they both value.
Sutton’s job as a commercial manager for Hutt City Council is flexible enough to give him the time to invest in Walsh’s future.
All up, he puts in about 20 hours a week coaching with Porirua City Aquatics.
‘‘I’m extremely lucky to have a good boss,’’ he said.
‘‘For me, my motivation is seeing the kids improve from where they began swimming, and that enthusiasm they bring keeps me going.’’
Sutton said Walsh had an amazing support network that included family and Porirua City Aquatics.
‘‘At the end of the day, Ben remembers where he comes from. His feet are on the ground.
‘‘It’s important for me, as his coach, to help him be well- rounded as a person.’’
Both were chuffed to receive the coach and young person gongs at last year’s Porirua Sports Awards.
Sport will always be part of the fabric of Porirua and Tawa and deserved to be highlighted at every opportunity, Sutton said.
Walsh said downtime would be key, because he did not want to risk burnout, but there would not be many days off.
‘‘I’m keen to see how far I can really go – last year I stepped up things and did well, but now I want to get even more out of my comfort zone.’’
At the recent Wellington longcourse champs, Walsh beat the 100m butterfly record.
Successful team: Porirua swim star Ben Walsh, left, and his coach Nevill Sutton.