Golden girl Andrea calls end to swimming career

Golden girl and Commonwealth Games swimming star Andrea Strachan has decided to hang up the goggles following her success in this summer’s island games.

The news was revealed exclusively in The Shetland Times and comes after the Lerwick lass enjoyed a terrific medal haul in Jersey winning three gold medals and two silvers.

Andrea Strachan with her two medals. Photo: Kevin Jones.
Andrea Strachan with her two medals. Photo: Kevin Jones.

Strachan has competed for Shetland at the games since 2005 and her success this summer brought her medal total to 17. She also has a bronze medal from the British Championships in the 50 metres breaststroke.

“It was always on my mind that I was going to finish swimming and I decided that Jersey was going to be my last competition,” she said.

“I wanted to go out on a high”.

Strachan, 23, who lives in Edinburgh said she has “always loved representing Shetland” at the island games.

Reaching the final of the women’s 50 metres breaststroke at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow last year was beyond her expectations, and she hailed the support of Shetlanders when she took to the water for Scotland.

“When I was at Glasgow it was so good to be from Shetland because they’re so good at getting behind the athletes,” Strachan said.

But the roaring crowds, the lights and the television cameras are a long way from where she started at the Clickimin pool.

Growing up, Strachan had lived right across from the leisure centre and started swimming at a young age. She remembers hitting her head “in the tank” as a youngster and wanting to go and swim in the adult pool instead.

“I was eight when I had my first competition off Shetland and I’ve never really looked back since.”

After taking the plunge Strachan began swimming with the Shetland Swimming Club and worked her way up through the ranks.
She noted the help of Jim Robert-son and Petur Petursson in her development and Strachan said she still kept in touch with Petursson and trained with the Lerwick coach.

Last year Strachan graduated with a degree in sport science from the University of Edinburgh, and has represented the university during her time there, both in Scotland and overseas.

“Swimming has changed me as a person,” she said, adding that the sport had helped her to come out of her shell.

“I think I’ve learned so much life skills from the sport,” she said.

Swimming requires a lot of dedication and commitment and “there’s only a few people I would say that stick it out and they are always classed as the ‘weird’ ones.”

She speaks fondly of her uni-versity swimming team and said it was it was like having a family away from home. Swimming has also been a way to switch off from the stresses of exams and university work.

Although some people may find the idea swimming length after length of a pool as a bit tedious, Strachan said: “I go into my own little world when I’m training.”

She said she had decided to call it a day after the Commonwealth Games, if she made the competition.
Though on the back of the games in Glasgow she did not feel it was time to get out the water just yet.

But with no 50 metres breaststroke in the Olympic Games, to be held next year in Rio, Strachan decided Jersey would be her last event.

She tried improving her 100 metre breaststroke times, but said “it just didn’t work for me”.

Since Jersey, Strachan has started in a full-time job with a private swimming company in the Scottish capital.

As part of her job she is teaching young children how to swim, a role which she finds very rewarding.

“I really enjoy it,” she said. “Some of them come to their first lesson and they’re absolutely terrified of getting into the water, and you see their progress through the lessons.”

Shetland’s swimmers performed strongly in Jersey, with plenty of personal bests and Shetland records. And Strachan said she is encouraged by the younger swimmers coming through.

“I know a lot of Lerwick swimmers are doing well,” she said.

“They’re getting a really good group of young swimmers.”


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