Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Women in Sport Week: Bethany Thomas and Wyn MacFadyen

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 Nairn Synchro pair Bethany Thomas and coach Wyn MacFadyen. 

Who was your female role model growing up and why?

Bethany

The simple answer to this question is my Mum! She has always been of the opinion to give me as many opportunities as possible and has always made it clear she believes in me. To have that kind of confidence in someone goes a long way to having self-belief. She has taught me to work hard, be the best I can, to never give up and enjoy the journey!

As I’ve travelled my path in Synchronised Swimming other people of course have had a huge influence on me, especially my Coach (Wyn MacFadyen). She has the ability to teach each swimmer as an individual, to bond the club as a whole and to make everyone feel a valued part of the team. She has encouraged me through both good and tough times and always goes the extra mile.

Why is it important to look up to a role model?

Bethany -

From these women I have learnt to truly value myself as an individual and as an athlete. They have proved time and again the importance of resilience, work ethic, friendship, team spirit and how to handle both success and disappointment. They have shown me that in life, as in sport, you never stop learning and that your attitude determines your direction!

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

Bethany -

My sport is fairly unique in that is female dominated. In fact, we have the opposite problem of attracting boys/men to the sport. It was originally designed for both sexes but men weren’t allowed to compete at the highest level, which of course provided a barrier to them joining the sport. I think we need to do more to encourage both sexes to take part and to retain the athletes after a certain age as there is a large drop out at around 18.

Wyn -

Our sport holds no barriers for women. It is men it seems to hold barriers for. There are often sexist comments towards boys who may want to compete, I have heard it all. I believe it is the hardest aquatic discipline and doesn't get the promotion to show that we are for all. 

What is your greatest achievement?

Bethany - 

That is actually quite a hard question to answer! As I’ve progressed through the Age Groups I’ve achieved top success at each level and every time it felt like I was on top of the world and meant something very special to me at whatever stage I was at. But, there are two achievements which really are my greatest:

a) At the 2019 SNAGS I became both the Junior and Senior National Solo and Duet Champion. It was an incredible competition for me and was the pinnacle of my competitive career so far.

b) In 2018 I was the Scottish Synchro Swimmer of the year. It was a great honour to be recognised for my contribution, in many forms, to my sport.

Wyn -

I have so many but what I get most out of is seeing some of the younger swimmers learn something new, or overcome a new challenge. It puts a smile on my face. 

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

Bethany -

I think the first thing I would tell myself is that there are no limits! The only person who can stop you reaching your goals is you and it is important to remember why you wanted to do this sport in the first place. Do it for the love of sport, enjoy the journey and take everything you receive from it with gratitude.

Wyn -

I would ensure that I understood never to give up. Patience and rescilinece is so important in life.

#SheCanSheWill