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Speedo Says...

Date 08-03-2017
International Women’s Day: Celebrating Women in Swimming

Every so often, it’s worthwhile to take a moment and appreciate how much work has been done over the years to achieve women’s equality. It’s hard to think that there was a time when women weren’t allowed to compete in any sport, let alone swimming!

Every so often, it’s worthwhile to take a moment and appreciate how much work has been done over the years to achieve women’s equality. It’s hard to think that there was a time when women weren’t allowed to compete in any sport, let alone swimming!

For this year’s International Women’s Day, we’ve decided to take a moment from our busy days to reflect on how far female swimmers have come (or swum!) and to appreciate women in swimming. Over the years, female swimmers have come to conquer the water and made history along the way, including some of our own Speedo athletes!

Jamaican swimming superstar, Alia Atkinson, is one of those truly inspiring figures in swimming. In 2014, she became the first swimmer of colour to win a world swimming title, when she broke the 100m breaststroke at the world short-course championships in Doha. With that, she became both an international winner and a national hero, earning Jamaica’s first gold medal in the World Championships.

“I’ve noticed more women, especially women of colour, have been coming up in the sport of swimming,” Alia explained. Winning in Doha proved to herself and many others around the world that swimming is a sport in which anyone can take part. “Winning in Doha felt pretty fantastic”, the Jamaican recalled; “to be a person of colour, and a woman, on the top of the top!”

Alia recognises, though, that not all inspiring women can be found in a swimming pool, but that’s okay, because all women who break down barriers are inspirational.

“The biggest inspiration in my life would have to be the women who continue to strive to be better, and to continue to fight for what they believe in. That changes every day, from all the way in the past to women today, and people I meet along the way on this journey in life. The women who continually strive to make their family better, to make themselves better, to help others who need those women to grow up and become better – they’re the ones who inspire me.”

“I hope that while I’m not a heroine for myself”, Alia added, “but at some point, I may be for others. I hope that as I move on in swimming, others would have an easier path to follow”.

Australian swimming star Emma McKeon also noted the massive improvements in women’s swimming over the years. The first women's swimming gold medal was won by the fellow Australian; Sarah 'Fanny' Durack, who won the 100m freestyle race back in 1912. Even at that stage, women from other countries, including the United States, weren’t even allowed to compete for some years later. Over a hundred years later, Emma is yet again doing Australian swimming proud, winning several medals at international competitions around the world.

“Swimming has definitely changed over the years”, Emma acknowledges, “but in swimming, we’re lucky that both men and women have equal footing in the sport today, and the same opportunities to make a career out of something that we love.”

Emma’s family definitely helped her to reach for her dream to represent Australia on the world stage, but she knew that personal passion is the key to success. “My best advice for anyone would be to find something that you’re passionate about, and work hard at it every day. If you’re passionate about it, it doesn’t ever feel like a job, but more like something you love doing every day.”

Welsh champion swimmer, Jazz Carlin, agrees that swimming has become more popular in recent years, including for young female swimmers. “It’s been great to see swimming grow along the years, especially in female swimming. It’s great to see so many sports stars, and hopefully we can see the next generation of young girls coming through, aspiring to go on. I feel lucky where I’m in the position to help some of these younger swimmers come through to competing for my country.”

Jazz’s advice for young swimmers would be to never give up, a motto that has served her well throughout her swimming career. “There’ll be times where it gets quite hard, and you’ll question if you’ll still want to be doing it, or people could tell you that you’re not good enough. I think, as long as you’re driven enough, and you’ve got that goal, you can achieve anything. So never give up, because you never know what could happen”.

Many of our Speedo athletes push themselves every day, fueled by their passion for swimming and their belief in themselves. In doing so, they’ve become part of a new generation of women, breaking down barriers for younger generations with every stroke in the pool, and every record broken.

The question left to ask, is: When would you like to join them?