The Voice of Great Britain's Elite Athletes
Stephanie Slater MBE
Chair of British Para-Swimming's Athlete Representative Group (ARG)
Stephanie is one of Great Britain's most decorated international swimmers. She has broken World Records, won multiple World and European gold medals and won a gold and silver medal at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. Following this, she was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours list. Stephanie recently retired from international competition earlier this year due to her health and is keen to support and inspire the next generation of athletes
How long have you been in the role for? I started my role in August 2018 when the ARG was first formed so I'm still quite new to the role.
What is keeping you busy alongside being the Chair of the ARG? Alongside being the Chair of the ARG I have a job 2 days a week at the NHS and I also attend college 2 days a week with a view of going to university next year. I am also a patron for Cash for Kids charity so help out with fundraising events when I can and I help coach at the Manchester and North West Disability Swim Club once a month.
What interested you in the role of Athlete Rep? I was interested in the athlete rep role as I had to finish my swimming career rather abruptly due to my health. I wasn't ready to step away from the sport though. I felt I could share my experiences and I also wanted to help give the athletes a voice too.
How often do you meet as an ARG? We have been meeting once a month but we all keep in touch to discuss any issues during the month.
What are some of the key things you have already achieved as an ARG, and what are you currently working on? We have managed to cover quite a few areas as a group in the short time we have been together. We collected feedback from the European Championships in the summer via a simple questionnaire which was then presented at a debrief session to the programme staff. The staff have come up with some action points for future championships and they have also communicated this back to the athletes. We are currently working on a few different topics but one is an athlete transitioning document to ensure the athlete gets full support once transitioning out of the sport.
Do you think the ARG is having a positive impact on the sport? It is currently early days for us as a group but I can only see it going from strength to strength. In the short time we have been up and running I can already see the positive impact it will have on the sport.
How do you best engage with the athletes in your sport? We recently did a session with the athletes at the annual British Para-Swimming conference talking about how best to engage with the athletes. We have a mixture of ages on the programme so we wanted to ensure we listened to their feedback and take on board their comments. This information will enable us to get the best out of the athletes and hopefully make them feel they can contact us at any time in strict confidence.
How do you feed in the Athlete Voice to your SLT? Following the meetings, the SLT will receive a copy of the minutes. I also have regular contact with the Performance Director and the SLT and we will discuss any issues that may arise. The ARG is also proactive at raising any issues should they arise.
Is the role helping you to develop both personally and professionally, and if so how? The way I had to retire was a big blow to me as I wasn’t ready to step away from the sport so by joining the rep group it has given me a sense of belonging again to the swimming family but in a different capacity. I think being able to stand up and communicate with people from different walks of life can only improve my confidence in the future. I am a good listener and enjoy the challenge of being able to help athletes. I am also able to use my computer skills What would you say to any athlete interested in the role of Athlete Rep? I would highly recommend getting involved. Speak to other athlete reps and get a feel for the role. It can help with your own personal development and help you to gain more confidence. If you have a passion to help make a change to your sport consider joining the team.