~ Written by Kate ~

I learnt to swim with Wolverhampton SC and began competition in the Club Championships at the age of eight. I then went on to compete for Wolverhampton in the Staffordshire County Championships aged ten and soon found that short distance freestyle and butterfly were my events (in the case of butterfly the shorter the better!), despite Keith Selvey's attempts to persuade me that I would excel at 200m Free. Since then I have won the County Championship 100m and 50m Freestyle.

I was soon at the Midland District Age Group Competitions and after reaching finals in the 50m and 100m for a couple of years I finally won the 17-19 years 50m Freestyle in the 1998 Competitions at Coventry.

I competed in the National Age Group Competitions in 1996 and 1997 in the 50m and 100m free and the 50m fly, then went to the National Championships in 1998 to compete in the same events. I was especially pleased to qualify for the National Championships in 1998 as it incorporated the Commonwealth Games Swimming and Diving Trials, it was amazing to be competing at the same event as big names such as Karen Pickering and Mark Foster.

1998 was my big year and after that I toned my swimming down as my A-levels started and I ultimately had to choose between going for good grades or good times, though I still competed a little after and was nominated Ladies County Captain while in sixth form and uni. I am now convinced I made the right decision and am currently in my third year of a BSc in Theoretical Physics and Applied Mathematics at the University of Birmingham.

I began officiating in 1997 when I took the ASA Timekeeper exam and was pleased to find I'd passed thanks to Mavis Fox's officials course and went on to pass the timekeeper practical exam at the Staffordshire Championships in 1998. I remember quite clearly getting out of the water after one of my events and being told by my dad that I could take the exam now, so I'd have to go and get my whites on. My whites went straight over my costume (I think I was swimming again later that day) and I turned up timer in hand hoping I looked reasonably presentable. Having done this I rarely officiated because I was still at the peak of my swimming career, but as it became apparent that A-level work and training didn't mix I was glad of the chance to see my friends at galas where I time kept and they swam.

I was enjoying my new role in the sport and in 1999 took the ASA Judge and Starter papers together after another course run by Mavis. I passed both and then went on to pass the Judge practical at an open meet early in 2000. Then after more experience at the Staffs Championships and League I went on to take the ASA Race Results Paper in 2001 and passed thanks to help from Charlie and Mary Steed. I was especially pleased as Charlie also passed the Race Results that year to qualify as a Referee.
At the Staffs in 2002 I was chief timekeeper which was an excellent experience as I got to see information I'd learnt for the race results paper in practical use.

In 2002 I passed the Referee exam after help from Peter Holmes and Charlie Steed. I then had my first qualified refereeing position at a Staffs League Gala at Bilston which was nerve racking.

I then refereed at the Staffs Championships last weekend (1st/2nd March 2003), thanks to Mavis I was well prepared for it as I was Chief Timekeeper for the morning session so I could observe a referee at work (Charlie Steed - he was excellent at helping me). Then it was time for me to ref and was that nervous I was shaking. The first event I refereed was the final of the ladies 100m free, quite fitting really as I had won that event in my swimming career. I don't know whether Mavis did that on purpose, but if she did I really appreciated it.

I hope to keep up officiating once I get a job and hope to be a FINA referee one day.

Finally, I must thank my Dad for the tremendous amount of help and inspiration that he gave me - without his help - and many other people's help - I would not be in the honourable position that I am in today!

That's it - didn't realise how long it'd be!

Kate Ward

Torch Trophy Award for West Midland Volunteer - KATE WARD

The West Midland Region was delighted that Kate Ward was presented with a special Torch Trophy Award by HRH The Duke of Edinburgh at a presentation at St James's Palace on Friday 4th November.

Kate, a member of Wolverhampton Swimming Club since the age of 8, was nominated by the Region as a worthy recipient of the special award for the under 25's at the 'Young Volunteers for 2012' CCPR Fundraising Lunch.

Kate's award recognises her commitment to the eight years she has already given to volunteering in swimming, even though she is only 24 years old. Kate began officiating at the age of 16 and in 2002 became the youngest swimming referee in England. She is now qualified as a timekeeper, referee, judge and starter and is now looking to further her interest in the sport by becoming an Officials Examiner. Kate has ambitions of qualifying as a FINA referee and officiating at the London 2012 Olympic Games.

The Torch Trophy Trust was founded following the 1948 Olympics and provides small bursaries to assist sports volunteers as well as presenting awards to individuals who have been identified as making an outstanding contribution as volunteers in sport.


I had a great time last Friday and was really shocked to have won an award - a lot of people did a good job at keeping it from me. Though I must admit that I was a bit suspicious that David Sparks made a bee-line for me almost as soon as I walked into the reception hall, then starting introducing me to high flying people from the Olympic 2012 bid. 

St James' was amazing. All the walls were covered in rich red wall paper - the fury stuff that's got a pattern embossed on it like the fleur de leys - and around the ceiling was lots of gold plated decoration. In the hall where we ate there was the very famous painting of Henry VIII watching over us - I couldn't believe it.

Photograph - Express & Star

I found Eddie before we went in and we negotiated all the security checks together. Then we were presented with champagne as soon as we entered the reception hall. It was all very posh - you had to watch your glass too as the waitresses would just keep topping them up when you weren't looking.

After meeting David Sparks (I had to read his name badge because I had no idea who he was) and some other people whose names I can't remember, (but must have been very important as they all had Olympic bid ties on) I was asked to be in the line-up to greet HRH Prince Philip. I was absolutely lost for words. Then I was even more stunned when I found myself standing next to Karen Pickering. I had a chat to her about what she was doing now she had retired from swimming. I thought it was really funny that, when I told her I was a referee, she said "You disqualify people then".

It was quite strange meeting Prince Philip in the line-up. There was no fan-fare when he came in, he just appeared at the end of the line. I had to nudge Karen to tell her that he had arrived (she was deep in conversation with the person next to her). When he got to myself and Sarah he asked what  we volunteered in and seemed confused when we said swimming.

After that a lovely lady came and started talking to myself, Karen and Sarah. We were chatting to her for about 15 minutes and I had no idea who she was - her name badge said Lady Charlton and I still didn't figure it out. Then her husband came over and I almost fell over with shock - I was talking to Sir Bobby Charlton and his wife.

After this we went for lunch, which was very nice;  Raviolli to start, then lamb, then crème brullee, coffee and sweets. The ASA tables seem to have been split into younger people and older people. It was great to meet some younger people who are also involved in swimming.

Then came the awards, which puzzled me as I had not been told anything about them. When they read my name out for the first award I almost fell off my chair! Then they started reading all about my involvement with swimming, how old I am, where I work and my ambitions for the future. It was madness - all these important people (HRH, Sir Bobby Charlton, Trevor Brooking etc.)
listening to what I do. I've never been lost for words, but I was for about an hour after that!

After lunch lots of people were shaking my hand and saying well done. It was a very, very strange sensation.

Thank you very much for organising this for me and please pass on my thanks to the committee who nominated me. I had a fantastic day and its about the first time I've ever been lost for words.

Thank you,