University of Limerick student and Team Ireland swimmer Finn McGeever has said his Olympic experience was ‘surreal’ and ‘exceeded all my expectations’.
The Tokyo Olympics saw the largest contingent of Irish athletes ever to compete at the Games, with 116 athletes from across the country representing Team Ireland, including 13 members of the University of Limerick community.
Among their number was 20-year-old Finn from Ballina, who took to the pool in the 4 x 200 Freestyle Relay. The swimmer, who is currently in his second year studying Maths and Physics at University of Limerick, also has the distinction of being the only current UL student to have competed in the 2020 Olympics.
“It is surreal, it still hasn’t sunk in yet. I have come home to a town full of signs and loads of support. I am taken aback by it,” said Finn when asked about his Olympic experience.
“It exceeded all my expectations. I loved it, it was unbelievable,” he added.
Finn’s affiliation with UL goes back many years, having started swimming lessons on campus at the age of six, before continuing to regular training in the University’s pool from the age of nine.
When it came to selecting his choices for higher education, he knew that there was only one place for him.
“I have been training at UL all my life, and I knew that the facilities were second-to-none in the country, so I didn’t want to go anywhere else. UL was the place for me.
“It’s the best mix for me - I love the University, I love the campus, and I love where I’m training as well.”
The University has also done its best to support Finn in balancing his academic studies alongside his rigorous training regime and allowing for extra training out of the pool.
“We have webinars with experts on topics such as sleep and diet, and there’s always something to take away from each and every one of those,” he explains.
Finn, who is a recipient of the UL Sport Scholarship Academy for High Performance Athletes, has been quick to recognise the role that the University and the wider region played in getting him to the Games.
“I would like to thank the scholarship programme, thank Noreen O’Connell, and thank the National Centre Limerick. If you’re a passionate swimmer, you should come to National Centre Limerick, it’s a huge squad and there’s a bunch of us the same age with second-to-none facilities.”
UL President Professor Kerstin Mey said: “We’re so proud of all the members of the UL community who participated in the Olympics – they’ve represented the University, the city of Limerick and country with great purpose and dignity at the highest international level.
“We look forward to welcoming them all – including Finn – back to the campus soon, and wish him the very best with his studies for the year ahead.”
While Finn is still finding his feet with his newfound status as an Olympian, he has some words of advice for aspiring athletes from Limerick and across Ireland who have been inspired to compete at a future Games.
“Stay with it – and that doesn’t just mean grinding, grinding, grinding – it means finding ways to enjoy it as well. You have to figure out how to enjoy it, because no matter how hard you are working, if you are not enjoying it at all, it is not going to pay off. You have to find that balance.”