International Youth Day: Toni Shaw Q&A

12 Aug 2019

Ahead of International Youth Day on Monday 12th August, we caught up with 16-year-old GB para-swimmer Toni Shaw to find out more about her and get her thoughts on the upcoming championships.

Age: 16 years old

Classification: S9

Disciplines: Women’s 400m Freestyle & Women’s 100m Butterfly

Aberdeen-based para-swimmer Toni Shaw had a breakthrough 2018 season that saw her compete in her first Commonwealth Games and medal at her first European Championships.

At the World Para Swimming European Championships in Dublin last year she won six medals, two of each colour. Shaw claimed individual gold in the S9 400m Freestyle and was part of a world-record breaking 34pt 4x100m Medley relay quartet on the final day of racing. 

Shaw has been selected as part of the GB squad heading to the 2019 World Para Swimming Allianz Championships, taking place from 9-15 September at the London Aquatics Centre.

When did you first get into swimming and when did you realise you wanted to swim competitively?

I started swimming when I was quite young. I went to swim at my local pool and then I was asked whether I wanted to join a club and it just went from there. 

I realised I wanted to do it competitively when I found out just how much I did enjoy it.

How do you combine competing and studying?

I combine swimming and studying so far, quite well. My school has been very supportive and last year they let me drop down from eight subjects to six, so I had more free time and periods to study. 

I think you also have to realise that sometimes you have to sacrifice other things to fit in time to study and train.

What was it like competing at your first Commonwealth Games?

Competing at my first Commonwealth Games was a crazy experience, and for it to be in a country like Australia made it even better. 

Being part of Team Scotland was really special too. It was nervous and exciting, and I loved every minute of it.

Who has inspired you?

I have been inspired by Hannah Miley, as she is local and trains in the same pool as me in Aberdeen every day.

What would you like to say to someone who might be interested in the sport/just coming into the sport?

I would say to anyone starting/interested in swimming that it’s a great way to make new friends and travel the world. Through swimming I have made so many great friends and travelled to incredible places such as Japan, Australia, America, Italy, Germany.

How does it feel to be amongst some of the youngest athletes competing at the Championships?

Being one of the younger athletes competing at the championships allows me to gain experience and get very valuable advice from more experienced athletes who have been competing for a long time.

Who are you looking forward to competing against at the Championships?

I am looking forward to competing against all the athletes from the different countries at the championships, as we don’t get to do this often. I am especially excited to be racing in some of the same events as multiple Paralympic champion, Sophie Pascoe.

What are your ambitions for the future?

My ambitions for the future are to qualify for Tokyo 2020 and race well there.

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