Young swimmers pool resources to aim for medals

Published: Thursday 21 July 2022

Four young people from South Lanarkshire are hoping to make a splash against international competition in England next month.

Dean Barghati, who attends Holy Cross HS, Hamilton, Thomas Traynor (St Andrew’s and St Bride’s HS, East Kilbride), Emma McGavin (Uddingston Grammar) and Rebecca Cole (Larkhall Academy) will be competing at the International Children's Games (ICG), in Coventry, which start on 11 August.

The Lanarkshire team’s Swimming Coach, Gordon McGavin, said: “ICG Coventry is an amazing opportunity for my swimmers to represent their county at a truly international stage.

“It’s great to see South Lanarkshire Council support sport on this stage because the promotion of healthy lifestyles and positive sporting images should be demonstrated to encourage every child to aspire to it.

“Fitness, sport, fun, networking and true dedication and self-reliance are all quality attributes that, as adults, we should be promoting from school level for every child, and participation in sport at every level is paramount to future wellbeing and healthy lifestyles.”

One of the ICG 2022 swim team diving to start a race.

As well as inspiring others, the games offers a wonderful experience to those taking part.

Dean Barghati, who swims for the Hamilton Baths club, said:  “I am really excited for the games – getting the chance to meet and compete with athletes from across the world is amazing.

“Emma and Rebecca are from the same club as me and Thomas is from East Kilbride ASC, so it’s great to be going to Coventry as a team, and hopefully we can win some medals.”

It was a sentiment echoes by his parents, who said: “We are so proud and excited for our son to be selected to compete at ICG 2022. We know he will have a great experience at Coventry as he will be doing what he loves best, having started with Hamilton Baths ASC at the age of 7.

“Good luck Dean and all of Team South Lanarkshire!”

A swimmer competing in the butterfly event.


In a week when stadium commentator Geoff Wightman watched his son, Jake (who he also coaches) win gold in the World Athletics Championships, coach Gordon is also looking forward to watching his daughter compete, as Emma is in the ICG team.

Although Gordon won’t have to keep his emotions in check as Geoff did during his commentary, he is familiar with the dynamic of being both parent and coach.

He said: “My swim relationship with Emma involves three very different forms. First, of course, I am Dad, being the early-morning taxi, preparing food (a lot for hungry swimmers), giving up weekends for competitions and like all parents, offering emotional support.

“Secondly, I am a team mate, as I’m still training with Hamilton Baths ASC masters, which means I can even race against the young athletes I coach. We can be training together, giving Emma the opportunity to beat me on sprints, and we can inspire each other to reach our full potential and goals in the pool.

“There are even swim sessions where I’m in the pool with all three of my daughters. When we’re pushing off the wall together on repeats, it’s a good thing goggles can hide my tears!

“And thirdly, I’m a coach. When you are part of a team and involved with lots of enthusiastic and committed young athletes, the relationship changes. It’s not ‘Dad’ or ‘team mate’ any more, it’s all about fulfilling each individual athlete’s potential.”

He laughed. “It has to be said, I think she listens to me more when I’m Coach.”