Swyn is already a star in coastal sculling!

 Swyn Williams rowing hardThis week PembrokeshireSport.co.uk is delighted to introduce a new subject to our web pages in the form of a rapidly-developing sport known as coastal sculling where Swyn Williams, who hails from Dinas and enjoys utilising the natural resources that our county’s coastline offers.


It involves propelling a small vessel along a section of the sea which can involve individuals, pairs or even quartets over a course that starts with four kilometres but can be more, each using a pair of oars – and Swyn has already competed for Great Britain in two World Championships.


Both were in the double sculls as Charlotte Heath (Carmarthen) was her 2016 rowing partner when they travelled to Monaco and came a very respectable 20thplace, followed two years later in Canada by moving up four places with Alison Morris (Saundersfoot) joining her in the boat.


 Swyn Williams representing Team GBGoing solo as the next challenge


Now Swyn has bought her own single coastal scull and although she is doubtful she will attend the 2019 world championships in Hong Kong, due to a lack of funding surrounding the sport; however she is eager to be back for the 2020 championships.


“I really enjoyed the camaraderie of working as a duo,” admitted Swyn, “but at 20 years of age I now feel it is the right time to branch out and test my individual skills to the full.”


“Although I will miss that competitive edge for the 2019 season, which starts in spring, I am working hard on developing my physical strength in the Saw Gym under the watchful eye of Tom Reubens and Jim Horner, who have designed a terrific work programme for me to follow on a regular basis.”


So how did Swyn set out in coastal sculling?


Previously she had been a more than useful breaststroke swimmer with Fishguard Flyers after setting out as a nine year old and by the time she was 14 she had swum for the club in competitions and also represented the county on a number of occasions.


“But my GCSE exams eventually meant that I couldn’t devote enough time to be in the pool in the early mornings and again after school but I needed a break from my academic work so my dad Huw, who had previously rowed a Celtic Long Boat, took me out to try it and I took to it straight away.


“When I heard about coastal sculling I was keen to give it a try and since I discovered that there were several scullers of my age at The Towy Club, which is situated near Llanstephan in Carmarthenshire, I decided to join them.


Warm welcome – and amazing success . . .


“I was made very welcome and they had two single and two double sculls and before long I was involved with Charlotte in one of the doubles – and since the sport was in its infancy we were surprised, and delighted, after only four months to take part in timed trials along the River Towy and discovered that our time meant we were ranked No 1 in the UK!


It qualified them for the GBR team in Monaco and after coming ninth in their heat at the World Championships to qualify for the A Final a final ranking of 20thwas a real feat against some more experienced scullers. “We were the youngest crew there, so having even qualified for the competition, let alone made it to the A Finals, was more than we could ever have hoped for” said Swyn.


. . .  And another World Championships two years on!


By the time that Swyn was ready to compete again two years later the qualifying system was far more refined and Swyn was joined by Alison for the British trials in the sea off Poole, in Dorset, and came third so again qualified at world level, this time even further afield in Canada, where she managed to qualify yet again for the A Final.


“It was an amazing venue,” Swyn told us, “and even though the competition was even tougher we were delighted to finish 16th in the world.”


Other sporting involvement


It is pleasing to report that Swyn doesn’t confine her sporting enthusiasm for sculling because for the last six years she has also been a schools’ ambassador for sport, starting out at 14 as a bronze ambassador and moving through silver and gold before now being one of a relatively group at platinum level.


“We aim to encourage others to find a sport to engage in who are not usually involved before and I have had every encouragement from Matt Freeman at Sport Pembrokeshire and Angela Miles from Disability Sport, where I love helping in wheelchair basketball and rugby.”


 Swyn Williams representing WalesTerrific family support


Swyn would say that she has been very lucky in receiving total support from parents Non Harries and Huw Williams, plus her sister Ffion, in all that she has undertaken, initially in swimming and more recently in her coastal sculling.


“One problem for newcomers is the cost,” said Swyn “because since it is not yet an Olympic sport there is no official funding – and although local clubs are now beginning to realise the value of having this equipment there is also the cost of travel to factor in once it becomes a serious sport for anyone.


“A single scull could cost upwards of £3,000, oars in the region of £500 and a similar sum for a trailer to carry the scull to venues – and I have to admit that my student grant took a bit of a hammering for a short while,” she laughed!


And finally . . .


“Sponsorship is always likely to be difficult in any new sport’ admitted Swyn, “but any help, especially for kit and travel costs, would always help and we would naturally love to hear from any companies or individuals who would be prepared to help in any way.


“At the moment I’m enjoying my winter graft and looking forward to getting out on the water around our coast to restart my sculling in earnest. It is good to report that sailing clubs in Pembrokeshire are showing a real interest in developing the sport and I am more than happy to talk to anyone who wants more information about a sport I love.”


Chat to Swyn Williams for just a short while, as we did, and her enthusiasm shines through – and we wish her every success because no-one could fly the Pembrokeshire Flag better in her chosen sport!

 Swyn Williams