Katie Shanahan

📷 : British Swimming/Georgie Kerr

Recently, Katie Shanahan won Silver in the Women’s 200m Backstroke at the European Championships in Rome, with the medal being her debut international win competing for Team GB as a senior swimmer. Earlier this year, Katie represented Scotland at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham for her debut Games, winning Bronze in the Women’s 400m Medley and Women’s 200m Backstroke. Katie had a successful junior career, and last year, she became European junior champion in the 200m and 400m Medley at the European Junior Championships, and in 2019, for her first multi-sport event, she won three Gold medals and three Silver medals at the European Youth Olympic Festival in Baku. Upcoming competitions for Katie will see her compete at the end of this month at the World Cup Series in Berlin, and she has her first BUCS in November, having recently joined the University of Stirling. We spoke to Katie about winning Silver for Great Britain at the European Championships in Rome, competing at the Birmingham Commonwealth Games for Team Scotland and her junior swimming achievements.

At the recent European Championships, you won Silver in the Women’s 200m Backstroke, what was the race like to compete in?

There was a strong field of world class athletes, but I was excited to have made the final and, as it’s my favourite event, I decided I’d give it my best shot.

What was it like representing Great Britain and receiving your first senior international medal for the country?

It’s has been a great honour to represent Great Britain at many junior international events. To be able to now represent the whole of Britain at senior level is even more special and to win a medal was the icing on the cake.

How was it returning to Rome for a competition after competing at the European Junior Championships there last year?

I’ve been fortunate to swim in many pools around the world, but the pool in Rome is my favourite. I knew it was a fast pool after swimming there at European Juniors and it’s an outdoor pool so I was really excited to be going back.

📷 : British Swimming/Georgie Kerr

You were hugely successful at the 2021 European Junior Championships, winning Gold in the 200m and 400m Medley, Silver in the 100m and 200m Backstroke and the 4x100m Mixed Medley and Bronze in the 4x100m Medley, can you tell us about your time competing there?

It was my last junior international event so I really wanted to put in my best performances. I was really grateful to be competing again after lockdown and grateful to be part of such a supportive team. It was made better because my home coach Danielle Brayson was part of the team.

Having represented Scotland at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham this summer, how did you find the experience at your Commonwealth Games debut?

It was really exciting to be part of Team Scotland and to be competing at a multi-sport event. There were lots of team building events in the run up to the Games so we felt like one team despite there being so many different sports represented. The swim team had a great mix of experience and it was a real privilege to be there with the likes of Ross Murdoch and Duncan Scott. They were really supportive and I learned a lot from just watching them prepare for races and how they conduct themselves away from the pool.

How was it winning a Bronze medal in both the Women’s 400m Medley and Women’s 200m Backstroke races and what was the atmosphere like competing in front of the Birmingham crowd?

I went into the Games hoping to PB and make some finals, so to medal at my first Games was unexpected. The home crowd were amazing. The atmosphere was electric and I do believe the crowd was one of the reasons why I did so well and medalled.

Do you have any stand-out highlights from staying in the athletes village alongside your Scottish teammates?

It’s a great experience to share with my teammates but also to be able to see other swimmers from different countries. The village was really well organised. There was always good food available and lots to entertain us.

📷 : British Swimming/Georgie Kerr

What do you remember most from competing at the European Youth Olympic Festival in Baku in 2019, where you came away with three Gold medals and three Silver medals?

I remember being amazed by how good the Team GB kit was. It included a suitcase, shoes, sliders and lots of clothes. That was my first multi-sport event and the village had such a buzz to it. The whole event was so much fun and I felt no pressure.

Is there anything you enjoy most about competing for Team Scotland and Team GB?

It’s a privilege to represent both, especially Scotland as it only comes around every four years.

Where does your love of swimming come from and how did you get into it?

My mum started me in mother and baby classes when I was six months old. I moved quickly through the levels and then got accepted into my local swim club. I’ve always loved being in the water from a young age.

What is a typical training day for you and how do you stay focused during a competition?

Now that I’ve joined University of Stirling, I train twice a day, two hours in the morning and evening, and four gym sessions. I always have a race plan and discuss it with my coach, and focus on my own race and not other competitors in the pool.

📷 : British Swimming/Georgie Kerr

How do you like to spend your time away from swimming and did you have a favourite swimmer that inspired you when growing up?

I enjoy going shopping in town, and going to the cinema or out for food. My favourite swimmers were Hannah Miles and Katinka Hosszu because, like me, they swim multiple events and IM.

Have you been given any advice over your career so far that has stuck with you and what advice would you give a young swimmer starting out?

Just to have fun and don’t put any unnecessary pressure on yourself. Always listen to your coach and be consistent with your training.

What are some of your favourite memories from competing as a swimmer over the years?

I’ve been really lucky to travel to many countries and experience different cultures, along with making lots of friends.

Do you have any competitions coming up that you can tell us about or that you are targeting?

I am competing in the World Cup Series in Berlin at the end of October and I am looking forward to competing in my first BUCS in November.

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