Mark Foster and Michael Gunning among swimmers to welcome launch of new LGBT+ inclusion initiative…
By Jon Holmes
The swimming and aquatic sports communities are showing their support for Pride In Water – a new LGBT+ and allies network launched by British Swimming.
The group for athletes, coaches, officials, support staff and those in other roles was announced by British Swimming on Monday and is already being well received across social media, from national governing bodies, and other organisations.
Pride In Water has been set up by Josh Rudd, who works as a Performance Lifestyle Advisor with British Swimming, as part of the English Institute of Sport (EIS) support services team.
Speaking to Sports Media LGBT+, Rudd explained how he brought the proposal for the network to British Swimming after carrying out extensive research, and was met with enthusiasm.
“The sport was 100% on board,” he said. “Maybe it’s been a long time coming. But we’re always asking, what more can we do to support our athletes? And this is one of those steps.
“Swimming have been pioneers in the UK in a few areas – mental health strategy is one. Theirs is one of the best I’ve seen, and it’s a privilege to sit on the group because it’s so well done and very robust. As a sport, they’re very much wanting to be able to offer the athletes more, and go above and beyond.”
The initiative follows on from the success of the Athletics Pride Network, which was announced in April by UK Athletics.
Among the athletes to welcome the Pride In Water launch are Michael Gunning – who trains in his native Britain but swims competitively for Jamaica at international level – and former world champion Mark Foster, who came out publicly as gay in 2017.
Rudd says that in his recent conversations, there has been a clear appetite within the swimming community for a network.
“Those I spoke to who are LGBT+ suggested that they would like to know of people who are similar to them in the environment,” he added. “They said they wanted to see people who were open, and doing what they were doing. That was a powerful thing that came through from every athlete.
“A lot of them also said they would look to speak to an LGBT+ person who they knew was out if they ever had an issue related to being LGBT+ themselves. It wasn’t based upon that person’s status within the discipline, or their role in the environment – it was based upon whether they knew that person was LGBT+ or not.
“They also mentioned that if they knew that their coach or someone else in the system understood what being LGBT+ meant, as much as the person who is LGBT+ in that environment understands, then they would feel confident to go and speak to them about it.”
Sports Media LGBT+ is proud to support Pride In Water and wish Josh, British Swimming and all involved with the network every success.
Learn more about Pride In Water on the British Swimming website, and follow on Twitter at @prideinwater. To connect, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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