Kathleen Dawson aims to end Scotland's long wait for Olympic swim medal

By Kheredine IdessaneBBC Scotland
Kathleen Dawson
Kathleen Dawson set a new Scottish record in Manchester

Kathleen Dawson believes she can be the first Scottish woman in nearly 70 years to win an Olympic medal in the pool.

The 23-year-old is the fastest woman in the world this year after smashing the Scottish 100m backstroke record at the recent British invitational meet.

Dawson is now preparing for next month's British Olympic trials but is already looking ahead to Tokyo.

"It all speaks for itself when it comes to recent form, so there's no reason why I can't get a medal," she said.

"I feel like the evidence is there and the training that I've been putting in and my recovery and mindset outside of the pool."

Scotland has not had a female Olympic swimming medal since Helen Gordon took bronze in the 200m breaststroke at the 1952 Helsinki Games.

"I remember when I was at primary school, the biggest ambition that I had in my life was to get a medal at the Olympics," Dawson told BBC Scotland. "It would mean everything to me to be able to do so."

Her record-breaking swim in Manchester has only ever been bettered by a Briton once - England's Gemma Spofforth, who swam in a now-banned non-textile swimsuit.

"The real surprise was when I swam that time in training - it was a second off my PB at the time," Dawson said. "So that was a surprise definitely at that point, but I felt like I could confidently recreate it in Manchester.

"I think I'm just really proud of the achievement - it is the fastest British time outside of the suited era. It all makes sense given I've put in so much hard work to get here and also to come back from my knee injury."

Dawson believes she has benefitted from an improvement in her mental resilience during a year of Covid-19 disruption.

"I almost feel like lockdown gave me like a mental reset and I think for a lot of people it just made you appreciate the sport a bit more," she said.

Kirkcaldy-born Dawson, who now lives and trains in Stirling, says her love of art and drawing also helped her cope with the boredom of lockdown.

"I've always been a very artsy person," she explained. "If I hadn't gone to Stirling to do sports studies, I would definitely be doing art somewhere.

"Doing portraits and paintings has definitely helped me come through lockdown."

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