Former Olympic Swimmer, Kate Haywood, Switches the Play with New Corporate Role

From the age of six until her retirement at 25, Kate committed her life to swimming. It was only after a serious injury in 2009 that Kate started to think about what she would like to do after sport. Here she tells us about her positive transition experience.

Kate Haywood Switches The Play

04 Jul Former Elite Swimmer Switches the Play with new Corporate Role

Maximising your Network and recognising Transferable Skills are just two of the keys to successfully transitioning out of elite sport, says Kate Haywood, former Olympic Swimmer and BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year (2003).

Kate has just landed a new role at EP, London based experts in thought leadership for the hospitality, leisure, travel and tourism industry, in a position that will see her providing athletes with help and guidance which will enable them to succeed in business.

Transferring her skills from poolside to boardroom has been a positive experience for Kate largely due to her support network of friends and family, plus some targeted advice from StP’s CEO Leon Lloyd who has himself successfully transitioned into a fulfilling life outside of sport.

Kate explains, “I was introduced to Leon and Switch the Play when I was considering the next steps of my own sporting career transition. Leon helped to bring clarity to the situation, and after discussing my areas of passion I was able to choose a career path to pursue further. Leon then made a great introduction which has ultimately lead to me being offered a position working with EP. I am excited about my new role and specifically looking into how athletes can change/develop leadership, trust and culture within business. My role will initially be very much business development and certainly StP’s has been the making of this, so I am extremely thankful to Leon for all of his help!”

Until her retirement, swimming had consumed Kate’s life. At the age of 16 she moved away from home to start a full-time training schedule at Loughborough University. At the peak of her elite training she was committing at least 20 hours of training each week in the pool, eight-10 hours of land training and additional Pilates classes, which left little time for anything else.

Kate has no regrets about her commitment and it certainly paid off as she enjoyed an incredible career that included representing Team GB in the Olympics, FINA World Championships, European Championships and becoming the youngest swimmer to represent England in the Commonwealth Games where she won a bronze medal in the women’s relay.

However, despite the gruelling training regime, Kate had always known the importance of carving time for a life outside of sport. Kate explains, “Yes swimming was demanding, but I have no regrets about dedicating my life to the sport I loved and feel that I was very lucky to plan when I retired and reach that goal successfully.

“At the beginning of my career I didn’t think about retiring and while I had a little support, I wasn’t really encouraged to do so either. Looking back now, as a young swimmer leaving home at 16 to pursue full-time swimming at Loughborough, it would have been nice to have some more support and guidance about the future and especially how transferable some of my skills and passions were going to be.

“That is why I am thankful that I had a strong support network around me near the end of my career which included friends, team mates, family and other contacts I had made over the years.”

As Kate looks forward to achieving success in the workplace, she can already see how years of elite sport have developed in her an incredible teamwork ethic, natural leadership skills and ‘can do’ attitude which are all going to benefit her – not to mention her impeccable time keeping!

Kate adds, “I have noticed that I am never late for appointments and generally arrive with plenty of time; that is definitely a skill that has transferred from my training regime!”

Switch the Play runs Masterclasses for elite athletes which help them identify their Transferable Skills and teaches them how to Maximise their Network so that they can enjoy and fulfilling and exciting transition into the corporate world.

For more information and to register and interest in these Masterclasses, click here.

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