Talented University of Stirling swimmer Clare Dawson has been forced to call time on her sporting career.
Clare, from County Down in Northern Ireland, has competed at World and European Championships and at the Delhi 2010 Commonwealth Games.
The 24-year-old has been unable to recover from a severe back injury picked up before the Delhi Games which had hampered her Olympic training plans.
She said: “It was a difficult decision to make, but I feel it is the right decision. I can look back on my swimming career proudly as I managed to compete at the majority of events any swimmer would want to.
“The 2009 World Championships in Rome was probably the highlight as I broke the Irish record in the 100m Freestyle and won my heat. It was a fantastic setting in an outdoor pool and it was my first World Championships. The Commonwealth Games were good too as you don’t often get the chance to represent Northern Ireland and we managed to come fourth in one of the relays.
“I will always miss competing as it has been such a huge part of my life. I’ve been doing early morning training since I was 15, but I can’t deny the recent lie-ins have not been enjoyable. I don’t think I could ever walk away from it completely, so I’m coaching with Stirling Swimming Club and completing my coaching badges.”
Clare is close to finishing a Masters in Child Development and recently volunteered with the Early Intervention Service at Stirling University Innovation Park as she works towards a career in educational psychology. Having lived in Stirling for the past six years, she has no plans to leave her second home just yet.
“Scotland has won me over,” added Clare. “Hopefully I can continue my career in and around Stirling as I love it here. I couldn’t be more thankful for the support from my coaches, the University and from Scottish Swimming and the sportscotland institute of sport. And the University scholarship has been brilliant not just for the funding, but the academic flexibility – that’s the reason I came here in the first place.”
Sports Performance Manager Raleigh Gowrie said: “Clare has been an excellent ambassador for the University and our International Sports Scholarship Programme. By competing in world level swimming competitions and succeeding in undergraduate and postgraduate study, she has demonstrated that elite sport and academic study can be combined successfully.
“Coming to terms with retirement through injury can be difficult, but Clare has a very strong support network around her and is very level-headed. She can now focus her attentions on completing postgraduate study and gaining professional employment.”