Phyllis McLean awarded prestigious Mary Black Award for 2022

A ‘delighted’ Phyllis McLean has been awarded the prestigious Mary Black Award for 2022 after a lifelong career within artistic swimming.

The Swim England Artistic Swimming Leadership Team reviewed the nominations and were unanimous in their decision to award the trophy to Phyllis.

She was presented with the award at the Artistic Swimming National Junior and Senior Championships and is a highly respected figure within the sport.

McLean, who was an international technical official at the London 2012 Olympics, began her career within the sport as a competitor, winning a national title with her club.

After taking a break to raise a family, she then came back to the sport, helping to develop it in her area with roles at every level from club, country and international.

During the pandemic, she worked tirelessly to ensure good communication was maintained between clubs, with meetings, national Zoom training sessions, competitions and virtual grades.

She’s been described as a very dedicated and supportive person, always willing to listen and take steps to improve and develop the sport.

After collecting the award, Phyllis said: “I am absolutely delighted to receive this prestigious award.

“It was a total surprise and an honor to receive this.”

“When I look at the names already engraved on the award, I can’t believe my name will be amongst these people that I have worked alongside during my many years of artistic swimming.

“To gain this at this time in my life is amazing and I am very grateful for those who nominated me.”

The trophy is awarded annually to a person who has provided outstanding service to artistic swimming and Phyllis was shocked to be named this year’s recipient.

She added: “I was working as a recorder at the event and I was busy checking the data on the computer before the first team event.

“I was aware of some artistic swimming credentials being read out but when Scotland was mentioned, I started to absorb a bit more of what was being said!

“When I looked over at my colleague and saw the huge grin on her face, I thought… this is me they are talking about.”

Greatest achievements

Throughout her time in the sport, McLean has been involved in a number of events but believes her role at the London Olympics was her personal highlight.

She said: “My personal achievement was being selected for the London 2012 Olympics as a technical official, it was a great honor for me and for my family.”

Phyllis, the current chairperson for Scottish Swimming, was also a well renowned coach, helping Lauren Smith achieve Scotland’s first-ever artistic swimming medal at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi.

“To help Lauren Smith to achieve Scotland’s first-ever artistic swimming medal for Scotland at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi 2010 was a very proud moment for us all in Scottish Synchro,” she added.

Advice for those wanting to get involved

Phyllis believes that anyone thinking about getting involved in volunteering should do it as it’s rewarding and has allowed her to feel special.

She said: “Go for it! If you have the passion for the sport and the enthusiasm to learn, to help others and be part of a team, then put yourself forward.

“I really enjoy working with various clubs and assisting them to meet their potential and encouraging the swimmers to reach their goals.

“You will be rewarded when you see the achievements of the swimmers and you will be part of something unique and special.”

See all the previous winners of the Mary Black Award, here.

To find out more about volunteering opportunities, email volunteering@swimming.org.

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