Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Scottish Women & Girls in Sport Week: Colleen Blair #SheCanSheWill

“Swimming has taught me to be organised, work as part of a team and to never stop dreaming big.”

We absolutely believe that swimming is a sport for all a sport for life and for our Highlands, Islands & Moray Regional Swimming Development Manager, Colleen Blair, swimming is quite simply a way of life. A regular open water and ‘adventure’ swimmer we asked Colleen about how she feels participating in sport and what swimming has given her. She said,

“What has swimming given me, wow, that’s hard to answer.  I have made so many friends from around the world. We are a small community that helps support and motivate each other to achieve our dreams. Swimming has taught me to be organised, work as part of a team and to never stop dreaming big. “

And no-one dreams bigger than Colleen. Turning 40 earlier this year, Colleen ‘celebrated’ by taking part in the SCAR Swim Challenge, an open water marathon across four of Arizona’s most famous and stunning lakes: Saguaro, Canyon, Apache and Roosevelt, where Kayakers guide the swimmers over a distance totalling almost 70km.

Not satisfied with that, in July Colleen battled through tidal waters, freezing temperatures and endured swarms of jellyfish to become the first person swimmer to cross The North Minch from the Outer Hebrides to the Scottish mainland, achieving the 43km distance in around 19 hours.

In the week where the focus is on Women & Girls Participation in Sport, we asked Colleen how she feels when taking part in one of her swims, she said,

“Each swim is very unique, as your mind is always in a different place, on good days you float into your own little daydream almost switching of from everything and just being in that moment. Other times when you’re not having such a good day or you’re going through a tough patch I look forward to my jelly babies as a treat every 3rd feed (I feed every 45 minutes). I get a couple of jelly babies so you literally swim to that feed then start swimming again until the next treat. I also sometimes break the swims into more manageable chunks in my head, however I always love it when you reach halfway, as to me you’re at the top of the mountain, and it’s all downhill to the end.

“A few years ago during a swim I was struggling a bit towards the end and I asked my paddler how long to go. He replied you will get there when you get there and the only way you will get there is one arm at a time! During long swims this is so true and easy to relate to.”

Colleen’s swim of The North Minch has been covered by BBC Scotland’s The Adventure Show (due to be aired around 7th October (subject to change) https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0bhn2hr As well as a feature in the October issue of The Scots Magazine, Colleen will also be one of the Speakers at the Kendal Mountain Festival in November, details of which can be found here: http://www.mountainfest.co.uk/speaker/detail/colleen-blair

With this type of coverage and publicity does Colleen consider herself to be a ‘Woman in Sport’?

In her typically modest style, she said, “I’m not sure how to answer that! I would just like to think that my swims inspire others to never give up on your goals and to keep dreaming.”

For more information on about coached classes for Open Water Swimming please click HERE

To see what swimming can do for you, please watch here:  https://youtu.be/970eWBE5s6c