Tokyo Olympics finalist Kathleen Dawson’s love of swimming began at Kirkcaldy swimming pool, her family has revealed.
The 23-year-old’s dad Paul used to take her to the now demolished pool on the Esplanade when she was still in nappies and the rest, as they say, is history.
She is now the British and European 100m backstroke record holder and also holds the British record for 50m backstroke.
But she reached her career pinnacle in the early hours of Tuesday morning when she competed for Team GB in the women’s 100m backstroke final in the Tokyo Olympics.
While she failed to secure a medal, she finished sixth and could still compete in both the women’s and mixed medley finals later this week.
Paul said: “The whole family is extremely proud of her.”
From Kirkcaldy swimming pool to the Tokyo Olympics
Kathleen was born in Kirkcaldy’s Forth Park Hospital and lived in the Fife town with Paul, mum Sarah and older siblings Emma-Jane, 32, and Andrew, 30 until she was three.
The family set up home in Raith Estate and her siblings went to the West Primary School.
Grandad Bill Dawson still lives in the town and Kathleen visits him during breaks in her studies at Stirling University.
Paul, a former Rosyth Dockyard worker, said: “I used to take her to Kirkcaldy swimming pool when she was just a baby.
“Kathleen was well under a year old and she was still in nappies.
“She loved it even as a baby. She just loved being in the water.
“We encouraged her to go in the water as much as possible.”
The Dawsons moved to Warrington in Cheshire in 2001 when Paul changed jobs but they kept up the swimming regime.
“She was still going at least once a week and at she started formal swimming lessons at the age of seven,” he said.
Two years later Kathleen was competing for local club Warriors of Warrington but now trains with Stirling University.
The Dawsons stayed up to cheer her on in her 100m final, despite the 3am start.
“We’re so proud. We toasted her with champagne afterwards,” Paul said.
The family still gets together in Kirkcaldy with grandad Bill, Covid rules permitting.
But much of Kathleen’s time is taken up with training.
She spends 18 to 20 hours a week in the water in Stirling, split into nine sessions.
And that’s on top of the two hour-and-a-half long gym sessions and flexibility training she does.
Coach Bradley Hay said he barely slept after the final.
“The excitement kept me awake,” he said.
Kathleen Dawson is SO proud of fellow #TeamGB swimmers Tom Dean and Duncan Scott ❤️
They won gold and silver in the Men’s 200m freestyle.
— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) July 27, 2021
“Sixth place is not too bad at all by any stretch of the imagination and she’s still got more to do with the medleys coming up.
“A medal in the mixed medley is certainly within grasp.
“Not bad for someone who had to fight back from a knee injury three years ago.”
Bradley added: “She’s a little disappointed in the result but she’s feeling quite positive for the rest of the week.”
The mixed medley relay heats are on Thursday and Friday, with the final at 3.40am on Saturday.
The women’s medley final is at 3.10am on Sunday.