Seaforde swimmer given another major accolade

Seaforde swimmer given another major accolade

5 January 2022

SEAFORDE golden girl Bethany Firth has been awarded an OBE in the New Year Honours.

The 25 year-old, who has won six Paralympic gold medals, has been given the honour for her services to swimming.

Bethany won two gold medals at the Tokyo Games to add to the four she won at previous Games and bring her overall medals tally to nine. 

A delighted Bethany said last night: “The medals are a personal achievement, whereas the OBE is recognition from others, it’s not something I can train for.

“To be honest, I couldn’t believe it when I found out. I was overwhelmed. It’s so nice to be acknowledged.”

This isn’t the first time Bethany has been recognised for her achievements, having received an MBE in 2017.

“The MBE was overwhelming in itself, so to be listed for this is a whole different experience,” she said. 

The Paralympic swimmer has endured a tough time outside of the pool, having struggled with shoulder injuries before the Games and most recently broken her foot last November.

“Last year was a really difficult year. There was a lot of uncertainty around injuries,” said Bethany.

“I got my cast off just before Christmas and had my foot put in a boot because the doctors weren’t happy with how it was healing.

“So now I’m in a boot for another six weeks. It’s a hard start to the year, especially with my disability as it is easy to forget and six weeks away is not ideal for me at all. I constantly need repetition in my training.”

Despite being forced out of the water, Bethany has still managed to engage in some sort of training and noted how much she has learnt in overcoming such adversities.

“The support I’ve received in training is amazing. I got a swim bench to help my upper body movements and even though I wasn’t in the water, I was still in the same environment,” she said.

“Last year taught me that it’s important to have a big goal, but even more so to set little goals just to make sure you’re moving.

“There’s days where I could have stayed in bed and not necessarily needed to train, and these are the ones that count the most.” 

Bethany’s main objective is to be fully fit in time for this summer’s Commonwealth Games. She says she will be proud to wear the swim hat of her native Northern Ireland.

“I have received so much support from Northern Ireland people as a whole and I can’t wait to represent them this year,” she said.

“Of course I swim for Team GB, but sometimes I think Northern Ireland gets overlooked because of that.

“That’s why I’m so excited to be representing my country and hopefully I will be able to repay the support I get as I couldn’t compete without it.”