Ben Smith, the Bermuda swimming coach, believes the sky is the limit for Elan Daley after she built on her burgeoning reputation as one of the island’s most promising talents, with yet more national record-breaking performances.
Daley came to prominence in March last year with an 11-medal haul and broke a host of records at the Carifta Championships in Kingston, Jamaica.
This week, she continued to turn heads by kicking off the Central Region A Championships, in Canada, in scintillating style, adding to her medal collection as well as shattering her previous records in the process.
Competing in the girls’ 13-year-old division of the 200 metres long-course freestyle, Daley blitzed her national record of 2min 10.26sec — set at Carifta — in the preliminary rounds, touching the wall in 2:07.16. Despite not surpassing that time in the A final, Daley did clinch the gold medal in a winning time of 2:07.71.
Not resting on her laurels, Daley, who was born in Bermuda but is also eligible to compete for Canada, tasted further success by also winning the 50 freestyle event in a national record time of 26.41sec, improving on her previous best of 26:59.
“It’s amazing to see her keep on improving on her performances and raising that bar of her personal calibre,” Smith said.
“What she achieved before breaking all the records at the 10, 11 and 12 age groups was spectacular, but to keep pushing that bar now is just phenomenal. The sky really is the limit for Elan.
“As a coach you always look at what records a swimmer has broken at a young age for potential purposes, but for me a key point for progress is that 13-14 age group because it is the last point before they hit full maturity.
“It is great to see that she has built on those records from her younger years and continued to progress so strongly.
“Another really exciting thing about Elan is that she swims every stroke. Her ability is off the charts, so much to the point that we don’t know what her best discipline is.
“It is a really fine balance though because, although you want to see her keep all of those strokes at a high level, at some point she will probably specialise in certain disciplines as she matures.
“However, although her 50, 100 and 200 performances have been eye popping recently, she is also strong in others and you have to be wary of focusing on certain strokes too early because she may plateau and not develop those to the point she wants.
“Right now, it is amazing to see what she is doing though. She has broken so many records that she now treats our records as her own; she really is a phenomenal talent for Bermuda.”
As well as her latest success, Daley could be set for a further boost with her recent performances standing her in good stead to qualify for not only the Pan American Games in Lima, Peru, in July, but also the World Championships, starting in September in Doha, Qatar.
Smith confirmed her age would not hamper any opportunity to compete on a bigger world stage, possibly as soon as this year.
“Not only am I impressed by the performances for her age, but the fact that she improves on her times so consistently,” Smith added.
“We are now seeing her post times that put her near senior-level swimmers and in a position to qualify for both the Pan American Games and World Championships, which is just incredible.
“She is already at the B time qualification for the Pan American Games and extremely close to the World Championships. As long as she hits those qualifying times, she is old enough to go to both events, which would be an amazing experience.”