Kirkcaldy swimmer all smiles after World Championship final

Kathleen Dawson.
Kathleen Dawson.

She may not have troubled the main contenders in her maiden World Championship final but there was no wiping the smile off Kathleen Dawson’s face.

The Kirkcaldy-born swimmer has been experiencing a number of firsts this week – a first Worlds appearance, a first medal race at a global competition – but there were no signs of being overawed by the occasion.

Excitement in fact may have got the better of her in Tuesday’s 100m backstroke final as she went out fast before being unable to maintain her speed, and eventually finished down in eighth in 59.90 seconds.

At the business end of the race, Canada’s Kylie Masse was making headlines, taking two hundreths of a second off the world record set eight years ago by Britain’s Gemma Spofforth.

But there was no shame in Dawson’s performance either as she got further invaluable international experience under her belt after previously appearing at Commonwealth and European level.

“I would have liked to have gone faster, I swam personal bests in the past two races I’ve been in but just to be in a world final, I can’t stop smiling, I’m so happy with what I’ve done,” said the 19-year-old.

“I’ve just come out here, taken everything in and I’m enjoying it as I’ve gone along.

“I wouldn’t say I’m nervous at all. I’m just taking it all in. It’s a huge experience for me, it’s a step up from the Europeans.

“I think I might have gone out a bit too hard, I know the last 20 metres felt a lot harder than it did in the other races. We’ll see what my coach has to say but it was still a good effort from me.”

Dawson, who was born in Kirkcaldy before growing up south of the border in Warrington, is not done yet with today’s 50m backstroke still to come as well as a possible outing in the relay.

The University of Stirling swimmer was a part of the gold-medal winning 4x100m medley relay team at the 2016 European Championships in London and her enjoyment of being on the big stage has stepped up a level this week.

“I’ve still got the 50s and I should be in the relay as well hopefully so we’ll see how it goes,” she added.

“I’m just going to go back to the team, recover, rest up and hopefully put in another good performance. As I said, I’m just enjoying things so much.”

You can help the next generation of young British swimmers by getting involved in SportsAid Week this September with five-time Paralympic champion Ellie Simmonds OBE. Find out more about how you can support the week of fun and fundraising by visiting www.sportsaid.org.uk/sportsaidweek.