I live in theUK, where I am a Chartered Sport and Exercise Psychologist (recognised by the British Psychological Society, or BPS) and an Associate Fellow of the BPS. I’ve worked with young swimmers, and athletes in other sports, at a variety of levels, up to international level.
I am passionate about both swimming and psychology, and hope to share my passion, knowledge and experience with you.
Early Swimming Experiences
As a youth, I was a National age group, schools and junior champion and member of the Scottish national squads from the age of 14 until I stopped swimming seriously at 18. I was bored and disillusioned after going from a 15 year old with reasonably dreams of becoming an Olympian to a good-but-not-great senior. Of course, what I realise now is that not as a result of not handling the transition from junior to senior very well, I really didn’t give myself much time as a senior. As I write my articles I’ll share some of the many other mistakes that I made along the way!
It was this experience that really got me interested in psychology. I studied Psychology with Business at theU niversityof Edinburgh, then my masters’ degree in Sport and Exercise Psychology at theUniversity of Exeter. This was the first taught masters in the UK. There are now lots!
Professional Training and Influences
In my twenties I got into management consulting and started my professional training as a sport psychologist, under the mentorship of Jonathan Males, who was an Olympic slalom canoeist, coach and sport psychologist. He was an important influence who helped to shape my perspective on psychology, which is broadly humanistic and guided by a general theory called Reversal Theory. In this respect, the founder of Reversal Theory, Michael Apter, has also been an important influence. During my training I was able to gain a lot of practical experience at Ealing Swimming Club in London, with coach Dave Heathcock. Dave is another important influence and a coach that I have a great deal of respect for.
As my career developed, I found myself focusing more and more on my work in the business sector and when I moved out of London about five years ago I let my private practice as sport psychologist go. However, it was at this time that I started to get back into swimming as a masters swimmer, with Kenilworth Masters, where I also do some coaching. Juggling work and family life, I managed to get into the routine of doing a few sessions a week and some gym work, and got back into competition. I’ve won a number of British titles in Breaststroke since then, but my greatest achievement has to be swimming a PB for my 100 breast at the age of 37, off three sessions a week. As I was not in the same shape that I was at 18, I put an awful lot of that down to psychology.
And so I arrive at the present day, being motivated to bring my experiences in sport psychology and competitive swimming truly together for the first time!