WITH US women winning more medals than their male counterparts in Rio 2016, women are achieving more success in the field of sport.
For the UK, 44.8 per cent of Team GB were women – more than ever before and Scottish Swimming have made getting more women to succeed in swimming a key priority with Project Ailsa.
Forbes Dunlop, CEO of Scottish Swimming, comments: “With more than 60 per cent female membership levels in swimming, Scottish Swimming is ahead of the curve when it comes to attracting females into sport.
“This profile is consistent across our volunteers, teachers and adult swim programme participants.
“While we are pleased that our sport is appealing to females we always want to do more and better and so Project Ailsa has been developed which is an initiative to motivate and inspire more female swimmers to achieve their full potential.”
Last Saturday, 130 female athletes came together in Edinburgh under Scottish Swimming’s Project Ailsa banner for an ‘Inspiration Day’, where they heard from Maureen McGonigle, founder of Scottish Women in Sport, took part in workshops led by senior female swimmers and enjoyed a live performance of the song, ‘Girl’, from Sharon Martin (https://youtu.be/zvjNLzhdEoI).
Project Ailsa is a proactive approach designed to energise and inspire female swimmers creating an environment where girls can be ambitious, resilient and thrive and continue in the sport of swimming well into their 20’s and beyond.
It is presented by Game-changing role models from swimming, other sports and other walks of life to motivate and illustrate what success looks like.
Among those attending the event were Aileen Campbell MSP (Minister for Public Health and Sport) and Kezia Dugdale MSP, leader of the Scottish Labour Party, who were impressed by what they saw.
Aileen Campbell commented: “It is absolutely wonderful to see so many young athletes from all across the country coming together to take part in Project Ailsa.
“It has been wonderful to see how many girls are taking part in swimming and we are really here to galvanise together to make sure they can be ambassadors for change and see women’s sport on par with men’s.”
Project Ailsa takes inspiration from Ailsa Craig and that’s about showing real strength and strength of commitment and the big message is to be dedicated to your sport, don’t create barriers and inspire the next generation.”
Kezia Dugdale also said of the day: “It’s been great to spend the morning with 130 elite female athletes who are already achieving great things at such a young age, with many of them with the potential of being the best in their field.
“There’s been a lot of progress when it comes to women in sport and it is important that we continue to break down gender barriers. Women must believe they can be anything they want to be.”
Maureen McGonigle, founder of Scottish Women in Sport, started the day showing the girls a video of Kathrine Switzer, who ‘broke the rules’ and was one of the first woman to run a Marathon (Boston Marathon 1967: https://youtu.be/fOGXvBAmTsY).
She said afterwards: “Events like this are so important, not just for girls here, but for others to see what these girls are achieving and what they could be achieving.
“The video of Kathrine Switzer was to show the girls that some rules are there to be broken and that battles have been fought and won to enable them to be where they are today.
“My advice to them going forward is for them to be single-minded and do what they want to do and stick in with sport. People now recognise the benefits of sport are much more than a healthy body and a healthy mind.
“Sport helps in so many areas of life and the friendships you get from being part of sport and part of swimming are invaluable.”
Project Ailsa was conceived as the working title for the initiative after wide consultation and final decisions by the swimmers at the first camp.
It is derived from Ailsa Craig, the small island off the Ayrshire coast, consisting largely of blue hone granite, flecked with gold.
It is also a strong Scottish girls name, originating from Norse, meaning ‘magical victory’.
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Contact: Kirsten Phillips