Out to Swim – Pride in Sport week

UCL Swimming is committed to diversity and inclusivity.

In lieu of Pride in Sport week, take a look at an insightful article written by our Engagements and Communications Officer, Louis Seller (2nd Year, Medicine).

For Pride in Sport week, UCLSC decided to explore how best to make our club inclusive and welcoming to all. We turned to London and Brighton’s Out to Swim (OTS), an aquatics club for adults founded 25 years ago for primarily LGBT+ people (also welcoming to all adults with an interest in aquatic sport, including disabled swimmers), with the hope they could offer some insight into improving our club.

As Communications and Engagements Officer and LGBT+ rep, I took part in a swimming session with the team and had the opportunity to speak to the Men’s Captain, Andrew Benson, before the session began.

Andrew has been at the club for two years and regularly competes in Masters events with the club, these include ASA British Swimming Competitions as well international LGBT+ competitions. Out to Swim is one of the largest Masters swimming clubs in the UK, and is well represented at these competitions which is reflected in their results.

However, it’s not just the training and results that Andrew thinks is so important about the team, but rather the community that’s been created. Like many teams, members are incredibly supportive of each other and experience comradeship in and out of the pool. Being a swimmer and a member of the LGBT+ community creates a unique opportunity in which like-minded people can come together in an environment where they feel comfortable in a space in which they can be themselves.

Despite this, it hasn’t proven as easy for all members of the community to get involved; gender based changing rooms and costume restraints create limitations. This is an issued shared with UCLSC as we have little to no Trans and non-binary participation within the club. OTS, in collaboration with TAGS – Trans and gender non-conforming swimming group, now have a twice monthly swimming session at Swiss Cottage. The pool has its own private changing for members and OTS provide a coach to help develop swimmers style and technique. We are fortunate at UCL to also provide certain sessions that have non-gendered changing rooms. However, we both agree that there is more to do to increase participation, as there have been no swimmers making the step from their Trans and non-binary sessions to the general OTS sessions available.

On top of this, there are additional boundaries of gendered racing. OTS keep themselves up to date with ASA guidelines and regulations on this, but go one step further with their involvement in LGBT+ competitions. These competitions have less regulation and therefore cater more towards all people included in the LGBT+ spectrum, as well as holding separate races for non-binary swimmers. It’s been important to note the scope of which can be made available and how limited we are within our own swim team currently.

Lastly, Andrew expressed the importance in any sports team that it was everybody’s responsibility to call out discriminatory behaviour. Having someone who’s specifically available for discrimination to be reported to, in cases where it may be inappropriate or difficult to call out behaviour at the time of incidence, would make carrying this out easier. He thought the idea of having an LGBT+ rep to do this was a great step in the right direction.

It was great to meet Andrew and then experience a training session with the team and gave an insight into the importance of having these spaces and how they’re a benefit to the community. The session was hard work and good fun, with members managing to make me feel welcome in the limited time there was to talk during the rest. I hope to be able to train with them again in the future as I thoroughly enjoyed it – if you want to find out more about OTS then please visit their website https://www.outtoswim.org/. See also our other featured Pride in Sports week events.


BUCS Long Course: 16-18 Feb

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lol the photo composition isn’t the best but at least we’re not lying when we say it’s long course

Ponds Forge – the scene was set, and yes, as you would expect, UCL stepped up to the mark.

UCL swimmers embarked on an impressive Friday evening in the steel city, with Phyllida (Goggy) Britton almost breaking her own UCL record in the 800m freestyle. Yes, you read that correctly, 800. Oh, by the way, did we mention that she also did it with one lung? #Thisgirlalwayscan.

That was followed by a cracking 4×100 Freestyle Relay by the LADS – JJ, Frankie, Dan and Rob. Unfortunately, they missed out on the B final by 0.5. This would become a sorry feature of the trip.

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Customary Wagamamas pic (We didn’t forget to take one inside…)

After a quick group shave on Friday night, we did indeed go on to smash Saturday, well guessed.

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6 award-winning shaves, 1 shave/record.

An amazing 6 records were broken!

These came from:
1. Dan the man with a plan in the 50 Back,
2. Annalise the rower in the 50 Breast and 50 Free,
3. Rob the captain in the 200 Free, and
4. the LADS in the 4×100 Medley Relay (Dan, JJ, Rob and Frankie).

To our disgust, the boys’ medley team got touched out of a spot in the B final by just 0.35 of a second – Rob told reporters that this was the lowest he’d been since Gerrard’s slip.

5. However, Goggy re-galvanised our spirits with a storming 2.04.63 UCL record in the 200 free FINAL, to finish in 7th place!

With a cheeky nandos from Saturday night fuelling our athletic endeavours, Sunday was also a successful day for the team, with a further 4 UCL records tumbling. These came from: Goggy in the 400 Free, Rob in the 200 fly (with a 17 second drop-off, that’s what we call pacing yourself), Annalise in the 100 Free, and JJ in the 200IM. It was raining records! If you follow our twitter @UCLSwimClub (cue: follow us, locate us on the side bar), you will know that we have already made that pun.

Special mention must go to Wall, who produced a cracking 100 Breast, and Alan. Alan, ladies and gents, smashed the 400 Free after doing a few 50 sprints approximately 30 seconds before his race. He’s Alan, he does what he wants.

Overall, 10 records smashed, lots of fast swimming, many PBs, and 8 top lads.

Good job team.

London League R2

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how many champions can a hot tub fit? 13.

Building on our momentum from Round 1 and itching to get back racing after the Christmas break, we arrived at the Imperial pool with high hopes of winning yet another London League round.

Safe to say we did not disappoint our travelling fans (Georgie and Ellen), who watched on as we beat a very competitive field, including a revived Imperial team.

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Our travelling support and Instagram team consisted of our two great social secs, Georgie and Ellen! Absolute legends

They still didn’t stand a chance though, as we continued our winning streak in the competition.

Special mention must go to Jackie, Becca and JJ for stepping up to the mark and swimming a ridiculous amount. Also congrats to debutants Matt and Hope! 100 fly for Hope in her first UCL meet, that’s how nice Emily and Rob are 🙂

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Becca and Jackie in the midst of battle. This was taken in between Jackie complaining to Rob about the events he had given her

Well done guys!

(the sesh after at the metric bar was pretty lit not gonna lie, good job Imperial)