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‘Fitness means freedom to me’: Bethany Firth talks about physical health and exercise

We talk to the six-time Paralympic gold medallist swimmer


Good sport: Paralympian Bethany Firth. Credit: Phil Smyth

Good sport: Paralympian Bethany Firth. Credit: Phil Smyth

Good sport: Paralympian Bethany Firth. Credit: Phil Smyth

What is your fitness goal for 2022?

Unfortunately, I broke my foot in November and this shifted my fitness goals slightly as I let it heal. However, I feel 2022 is going to be a great sporting year with both the World Championships and the Commonwealth Games. My focus for 2022 is definitely to qualify for them both.

What’s your favourite form of exercise?

Swimming! Is this a trick question? Although, in saying that, I love trying new sports that I've never tried before. I might not be very good at it but I love giving new sports a go. I think that is what is so important about the Lidl Community Works Sport for Good programme, which this year is providing 25 schools across the region with £1K worth of free sports equipment plus a Mental Health Athlete Mentorship Programme to practically show them the health and social benefits of taking part in sports. The scheme really encourages pupils to give it a go, take part and discover what they like. I’m really proud to be an Ambassador for the campaign and encourage young people to really see the joy and the benefits of sport.

Do you take supplements?

Yes, I do take supplements but only to supplement my main diet. I take extra protein to help me recover from all my training sessions.

Have you/would you try alternative therapies and treatments?

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I think it's always good to try new ideas. If you don't try it, you will never know if it works for you or not. Although, when it comes to it, I leave it up to my support team to find out new and interesting things to try.

What does fitness mean to you?

Fitness means freedom to me. It allows me to be pushed out of my comfort zone to achieve things I only can dream about. We have all had a tough couple of years since the pandemic began and it has been particularly hard for young people. The Lidl Community Works Sport for Good programme this year is even more important for that reason. The mental health benefits from participating in sports are amazing, and the support system you can create around you of your peers and teammates is a great help when you’re feeling low.

How best can someone ease into exercise?

I think it's about finding a type of exercise that you enjoy, if you don't enjoy it, you won't do it. That’s why I really encourage anyone to try everything, give it a go and if you don’t like it try something else. You are much more likely to commit to something that you look forward to.

How well do you sleep?

I love sleep! To me it's super important, it allows my body to adapt to the training and it also allows it to recover ready to go again. If there's ever a chance to nap, you know I'll take it!

Do you worry about your fitness level?

I think worrying about things uses energy I would prefer to use for something better. If I can't do something to change then why should I worry about it. Just do your best, every day to the best of your ability, that's all you can do.

Bethany Firth is currently an Ambassador for the Lidl Community Works Sport for Good programme. The scheme aims to encourage and support young people to make the most of the physical and mental benefits of sport participation. Over the last two years, Sport for Good has supported more than 80 sports clubs and schools across Northern Ireland and provided more than £220,000 in funding to encourage more young people into sport. To find out more about the Lidl Community Works Sport for Good programme please visit: lidl-ni.co.uk/lidl-community-works

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