Sut­ton and Walsh: A top com­bi­na­tion

Kapi-Mana News - - SPORT - By KRIS DANDO

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.

Photo: KRIS DANDO

Suc­cess­ful team: Porirua swim star Ben Walsh, left, and his coach Nevill Sut­ton.

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