Friday, October 30, 2020

Women in Sport: Caitlin McClatchey

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 24th to 30th October and each day we will be sharing a news story celebrating Scottish Swimming’s Women in Sport. Today we meet Scottish Swimming board member and former Olympic and Commonwealth swimmer Caitlin McClatchey. Caitlin has been a massive figure in our sport, winning five World Championship Medals, two Commonwealth medals and two European medals. Caitlin currently works at the British Olympic Association as Athlete Services Manager for Tokyo 2020.


Who was your female role model growing up and why?

One of the major influences and female role models when I was growing up was my mum. My mum was an international swimmer and competed for Scotland at the 1974 Commonwealth Games in Christchurch New Zealand.

From an early age my mum instilled in me the importance of hard work, dedication and determination in achieving your goals and dreams.

Why is it important to look up to these women?

It is really important to have visible role models – if you can see it, you can believe it and you can achieve it.

I have a huge amount of respect for many of the trailblazing women in sport who have broken barriers both on and off the field of play.

One in particular is Anita Lonsbrough, who was a pioneer and an inspiration to many people (both male and female). Anita is an Olympic Gold medallist in swimming and was the first female flag bearer for Team GB at an Olympic Games, and the first female winner of BBC Sports Personality of the year. 

How accessible is your sport for women, and what barriers are there that we need to look to overcome?

I believe swimming is a sport for all and it’s a sport which can save lives. In recent years swimming has taken steps to become more equal with the introduction of mixed relays and the same events for both men and women.

In my view, one of the main barriers for women in swimming can be during teenage years. Physical changes can lead to anxiety, there are social pressures and schoolwork starts to increase and intensify. We need to help young women build confidence during this stage to help overcome fear of judgement and having female specific mentors can be important to offer support and guidance. If we can affect positive change at this stage young people are more likely to grow into adults with a passion and love of sport and physical activity.

Another barrier has been the profile of womens sport in the media compared with mens sport. Visible role models are hugely important for young women to help challenge gender stereotypes and teenage years are often when behaviours and mindsets are shaped and formed. A positive over the last few years is that there has been an increase in showcasing womens sport in the media such as football, netball, cricket and rugby.


What is your greatest achievement?

My greatest sporting achievement was winning two gold medals at the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games. My favourite moment was winning the 200m freestyle in a Games record time, as it was the very first swimming event of the Games. It was a hugely proud moment standing on the podium, hearing ‘Scotland the brave’ and seeing my parents in the crowd.

It was great to see so many of my teammates swim personal best times and pick up medals at the Games. In total, the swimming team won six golds which is still one of our best results in the pool to date.


What would you say to your younger self as a young woman starting off in sport?

Enjoy every moment, believe in yourself and never stop learning from others, especially your female peers and role models.