Fletcher happy to give back
Julian Fletcher has outlined how he is giving back to the local swimming programme.
The Olympian and five-times World Championships competitor participated in Olympic Day at the National Aquatics Facility yesterday, with 32 young swimmers benefiting from his experience in the sport.
Judy Simons and Brenda Dale, the president and vice president of the Bermuda Olympic Association, were also in attendance along with Ben Smith, the national swimming coach. Katura Horton-Perinchief, the island’s only Olympic diver, also attended.
“I come in as a part time coach to coach these youngsters and also came to the Nationals and helped out a little bit with some of the swimmers who were trying to reach qualifying times,” said the 26-year-old Fletcher, who retired as a competitive swimmer last year. “I’ve also helped some of the elite young athletes to achieve their international goals and reach the same levels of sport that I was at. A lot of it is about giving back.
“After my career in swimming, I realised I had a wealth of knowledge in the sport and it wouldn’t really be useful keeping it to myself. I’m also working with one of the clubs and also on the national level. I was coached by some of the top coaches in the world, most of those guys had gold medallists as their athletes.
“It’s great to see the amount of talent we have here in swimming, and outside of swimming we have a lot of up and coming track athletes and cyclists and a great triathletes. I like to sail and playing golf so it would be cool to transition my athleticism to something else. Maybe I’ll put on a red and blue shirt and play for Somerset one day!”
In his last year of competition Fletcher achieved eleven national records, including breaking his own standards and a 13-year-old record held by Graham Smith in the 100 metres individual medley. Fletcher set new Bermuda records at the World Short-course Championships in Ontario last year and also competed at the World Cup meets in southeast Asia in October and November before returning home full-time.
“For the Olympics I was focused on one event, the 100 breaststroke and 200 breaststroke which I didn’t qualify for in Rio,” he explained. “Preparation for that involved a lot of 100s and lot of sprints so I wasn’t able to do the IM events. But when I went to the World Cups in October and November I got the opportunity to show my talent outside of breaststroke and that’s when I came back with the eleven Bermuda records, which was really satisfying and a great end to my career. It’s all about setting the bar.”
Since he returned, Fletcher did some work for the America’s Cup with the Event Authority and is looking to establish himself in a career.
“I studied sports management and finance so I’m interested in event operations and the finance side of sports organisation,” he explained. “The Americas Cup was great exposure for me.
“I didn’t reach all that I wanted to swimming and feel that I had another push for another Olympic Games, but [retiring] was a tough decision to make and thankfully I had my family to back me in the last Olympic Games as well as the coaches and the BOA,” he said.
Smith appreciates Fletcher giving something back to the sport where the youngsters have enjoyed having him around.
“Julian is somebody who has worked really hard to get to the level where he was, he wasn’t somebody who in the early stages of his career who got the results that usually spurs someone to stay on in the sport,” Smith said. “But he continued to persevere and work hard which led to the performances that got him to the Olympic Games. To have that kind of person come back and give back is very important because that message is a message we can give to everybody.”
Simons said: “We try each year to profile a sport, this is a core sport with a developmental programme and it’s important we exposure our youngsters to what the potential of the Olympic Day can be all about.”
Dale added: “Olympic Day is an international celebration so it is important for us to participate. But it is also important to get the Olympians to come back and give, so it is wonderful to see Julian here.
“At the pool it is also wonderful to see Katura Horton-Perinchief, who was the first black female Olympic diver who came from Bermuda. She came back and developed a programme for diving and to see Julian coming back to give to his country — he’s serving as well on the athletes commission — and that’s what we need to see.
“It’s the biggest gifts they can give to these young athletes. People like [swimmer] Jesse Washington will look at them and aspire to do the same.”
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