Thursday, October 6, 2016

#WSW16 Celebrating Women in Sport – Ann Dickson

Launched in June 2015, Women’s Sport Week featured original and curated content across local and national media, supported by Government and the wider sport industry, as the nation looked ahead to an exciting summer for women’s sport.

Women’s Sport Week was designed and launched to celebrate, raise awareness and increase the profile of women’s sport across the UK. Focusing on media coverage, elite competition, grassroots participation and workforce, the week featured original and shared content across local and national media, supported by Government and the wider sport industry, as the nation looked ahead to an exciting summer for women’s sport.

This year Women’s Sport Week runs from 3rd to 9th October and each day we will be sharing a news story celebrating Scottish Swimming’s Women in Sport. Today we meet Ann Dickson, coach at Perth City Swim Club.

How did you get involved in swimming?
I was identified at a local school swimming gala by my local club at the age of 11 and asked if I would like to join the club. The rest is history as I graduated from being a club swimmer to becoming involved in coaching at the age of 16 and I have never stopped !

What is your greatest achievement in swimming and what has made you most proud?
Probably my greatest achievement was coaching Stephen Milne to a medal at the Olympics this summer and what made me most proud was being a member of the coaching team at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

How important are female sporting role models in encouraging girls to participate in swimming?
I think female sporting role models in swimming are important as they help the girls to realize they can be successful. A big part of achieving success is believing anything is possible and seeing other people such as Hannah Miley achieve the success she has helps them believe. Girls don't have the advantage the boys have of continually growing and becoming stronger. This keeps the boys progressing at the time when exam pressure starts to bite while the girls tend to plateau earlier and at this point may feel they aren't going to make it! This may not always be the case if you can persuade them to continue to swim and train through this period.

What stops girls participating in swimming – Is there anything we can do to overcome these barriers?

Pressure on girls at school is for them to be social and go out with their peers. This is in the evenings and at weekends which then interferes with the training times. It is very difficult if you keep saying you can't go somewhere because you are training. People will stop asking you to go and then it is very important that you have good friends within your club within the training environment.

Clubs need to be aware of this and perhaps need to look at this when organizing training hours  but this is not always possible as finding training time is a real problem for most clubs. It is good if there is one night during the week you might be able to go out with friends. Some younger girls might not get involved in swimming because of poor body image as there is no hiding this in a swimming pool.

Girls are also more conscientious about their studies at school and with the current exam structure with constant pressure on them from third year upwards they will sometimes decide that the pressure to succeed at school makes them think they haven't the time to  train and do all their homework. This takes good organisation and discipline with them speaking to their teachers so that homework is given in advance and not required returned within 24 hours.

What transferable skills can girls gain from swimming, and what are the wider benefits of these?

To be a swimmer you need to be disciplined, organised, committed,determined, a good listener, able to communicate with others, willing to try things, have self belief and confidence. These are just a few!  All of these attributes will help you to be successful in the big wide world.

Who is your female sporting hero and why?
Probably my female sporting hero is Kelly Holmes as she always gave 100% when she represented her country despite the fact she was often struggling with injuries. She never indicated she was perhaps not 100% fit but got on with the job. Challenges and setbacks she accepted and moved on to overcome them until she became a double Olympic medallist! She kept believing!

What are your ambitions for the future?
To continue coaching the young people in my club and help them to maximise their potential. They will not all gain Olympic medals like Stephen but hopefully they will gain fun and enjoyment from their swimming and develop these attributes which help them develop as rounded people who believe they can succeed in whatever they choose to do in life.