Thursday, October 29, 2020

Women in Sport Week: Judy Wardlaw

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 Diving Programme Manager at Aberdeen Diving Club, Judy Wardlaw. Judy has been involved in diving from a young age and has been working with Junior Elite Athletes and Age Group Divers on the east coast for four years.

Who was your female role model growing up and why?

To be honest, looking back, it was probably my best friend Nuala. She played for Scotland youth teams in both cricket and football (and went on to do so in rugby too as an adult!). I always found her drive and ambition to be the best she could be in her sport very inspiring and it pushed me to want to worker harder and get more involved in sport.

Why is it important to look up to these women?

It is essential for young women/girls in sport to have women out there who are leading the way and creating a path for future generations to follow. Women’s sport has come such a long way in the last few decades and that is because of the fearless and determined nature of those female role models who pushed the boundaries and showed young athletes how to be outstanding at what they do.

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

Diving as a sport is very accessible to women, in Aberdeen particularly, the majority of our divers are female. We find a high number of female athletes transition over from sports such as gymnastics and dancing as there is so much crossover in the skills performed. There are definitely barriers out there which could put women off joining the sport. Many people are body conscious and don’t feel comfortable being in a swimming costume or are worried about the height aspect of diving. I would encourage anyone who is thinking about taking up diving to get in touch with a diving programme near them to discuss their worries or fears – there’s usually always something we can do to support someone through these concerns.

What is your greatest achievement?

I would say my greatest achievement is the (thus far!) successful development of the diving programme in Aberdeen. Aberdeen Diving Club has grown over the last 4 years and the success of our divers is apparent at all levels of competition from novice divers all the way up to British Junior level. This year we had three divers selected for Scottish Swimming National Diving Squads, two of whom are female divers. I am incredibly proud of this achievement not only for the divers but also for myself and the other coaches who work tirelessly with the athletes in Aberdeen

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

I would recommend any young women starting off in sport to try a bit of everything! Have a look out there and see what different sports there are that might appeal to you and don’t give up if you don’t find the right one straight away. Diving was most definitely not a mainstream sport when I started back in 1994 but it grabbed my attention and interest and 25 years later I’ve been lucky enough to build a career around it and I still love it as much as ever!