Tuesday, October 04, 2016

#WSW16 Celebrating Women in Sport – Colleen Blair

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 Colleen Blair, Regional Swimming Development Manager, and Open Water swimmer extraordinaire.

How did you get into swimming?

Both my parent swam so I was in the pool from a baby, I had asthma so my parents were told swimming would help and my dad was also a coach. I have always swam and can’t remember learning. I had a pony as and child and also played netball & hockey but swimming was the one sport I stayed with. I swam in the pool until I was 13/14, played waterpolo until I was about 16 and started open water swimming when I was 8 (there was a juvenile age group then) and still swim open water.

What is your greatest achievement in swimming and what has made you most proud?  

Being the first person to swim the Pentland Firth was a massive achievement as so many people thought it was impossible or completing the North Channel (Scotland to Ireland) it was a goal I set when I was 16, tried and didn’t make it when I was 18 and 12 years later was successful thanks to great support team. What has made me proud probably swimming the Great Scottish Swim with my mum for her 60th birthday (she doesn’t like swimming outside too much)

How important are female sporting role models in encouraging girls to participate in sport & physical activity?

Hard one to answer as my role model was actually male, he had swam the channel, I suppose if I had met a female channel swimmer it probably would be them. I think it is important to have someone you can relate to and gives you a challenge to work hard to get to where they are or over take them so you can be the best you can be.

What stops girls participating in swimming and what can be done to reduce these barriers?

Swimming is hard work but also great fun if your friends swim too, if they don’t the pressure on the number of hours required in the pool versus meeting your friends can be a hard balance to get correct.


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

Confidence in what they can do well that can be transferred across, working hard ethos, swimming training can be hard but the rewards can be great which is like anything in life, you learn to train hard to get good rewards which equals works hard do well.

What role can schools play in encouraging girls to get active?

To make it more fun and sport specific giving girls have time to get changed and do the hair and makeup which some see as a barrier,

What is the best way to get involved in swimming?

Look up where your closest pool is and contact them they should be able to give you information on what sessions they run and if there are any local clubs or contact Scottish swimming who would be able to give contact of local club.

Who is your female sporting hero and why?

Gertrude Ederle was the first female swimmer to swim the English Channel she never gave up on her dream and was successful in 1926, at that time they did not have all the technology that we now have making it such harder swim then.

What are your ambitions for the future?

I am trying to swim the Minch from Lochinver to Isles of Lewis (27-40 miles)


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