Joy of swimming key to Firth's success

10 Jul 2023

UCFB Manchester student, Jessica Tattam, spoke with six-time Paralympic Champion Bethany Firth about her journey in swimming and mentality to enjoying life between the lane ropes.

Bethany Firth is a force to be reckoned with in the pool, with seven world titles and six Paralympic gold medals under her belt in a career now spanning over a decade at the top of the sport. Firth was a late starter to swimming at the age of 13, but rapidly rose through the ranks and appeared at her first international meeting at 15 years-old, before surprising many to win a first Paralympic Gold Medal a year later at London 2012. For all the success in her career, Firth has been no stranger to overcoming obstacles. 

Despite an initial fear of water, Firth - who competes in the S14 intellectually impaired classification, was primarily introduced to swimming via Longstone Secondary School and this induction into the sport became life-changing. After displaying her talents, swimming provided an encouragement for Firth to no longer be the introverted, shy girl who 'hid behind her disability'; gaining confidence and growing as a person in the company of her teammates. Firth exclaims to be happy to now be able to 'talk to and meet new people' as a result of those formative experiences. 

Firth further explained how the swimming club guided her to a philosophy of enjoying swimming, with winning as a secondary priority. And multiple world record holder claims that her team also gives her an environment in which she can maintain a positive mindset permitting, helping her to stay healthy and remain competitive. Despite having stood on top of podiums in major international arena's, Firth still claims to get pre-race nerves, however she has found her way to overcome them remembering her philosophy of enjoyment - rising above her nerves by seeing performance as an opportunity to display her hard work in training and her progression. 

As young talent comes through Great Britain pathway and across the Paralympic movement, Firth philosophy mean she sees them not as an added pressure factor to perform, but rather instead is able to celebrate the positive growth of the sport. Offering advice to those making their first waves in swimming, Firth said:

"There always bumps along the way, it’s just about having fun and enjoying little wins. There will be knockbacks but remember, everyone will overcome them, and you can do what you put you mind to."

No matter how successful a career, Firths highlights the most important thing to come out of sport is friendship, passion and fun, making her a extraordinary role model for younger generation.

Guest article for the Manchester 2023 Para Swimming World Championships. Find out more about the event at with tickets on sale at