Student Sport Insight #14 – Ewan Taylor

In episode #14 of the Student Sport Insights, we spoke with Ewan Taylor, a talented swimmer and co-founder of one of the UK’s biggest student-run sports leagues.

After achieving success in national competitions and qualifying for Olympic Trials, Ewan enroled at the University of Surrey in 2020 to pursue his bachelors degree in Economics and Finance and continue his promising swimming career.

As a member of the University of Surrey’s Swim Team, Ewan has competed in both National and European competitions for the past three years and become an important figure in the UK university swimming community during that time.

In 2021, he co-founded the British University Swimming League (BUSL). Previously known as the National Development League, Ewan worked alongside his friend, Jack Corston, to develop a league that offered swimmers of all ability levels another opportunity to compete alongside their studies. Now in its third season, the BUSL is thriving with 62 registered university teams from across the UK.

As he approaches his final semester, we spoke with Ewan to find out all about his experience as a student-athlete in the UK.

Student Profile

Name: Ewan Taylor

Nationality: English

Institution: University of Surrey

Degree(s): BSc Economics and Finance

Considering your journey of applying to universities, how influential was your passion for swimming in shaping your choice of institutions?

During my application process, academics – both studying and industrial placement year – was the priority for me.

I was keen to attend an institution that had a practical rather than overly theoretical ethos of study. I also wanted to be close to London to allow my to continue to live at university while working in London on my industrial placement year.

For me, swimming was a secondary indicator, where I narrowed down my list based upon the quality of their swimming club and the facilities available.”

Above: Ewan and the University of Surrey Swim Team pictured at the impressive Ponds Forge International Sports Centre, home of the annual BUCS Short and Long Course Championships.

During your final year at the University of Surrey, and looking back on your university sporting experience, could you share how participating in sports has impacted your overall journey?

Participating in sport was very useful in the beginning as a place to make friends. For me, swimming was a useful constant in what is quite a big transition to independent living at university.

Training and competitions also mean that you must plan your time in advance to ensure that you can fit in all your work, sport, hobbies and leisure time. Swimming lay the foundations of a regular timetable for me which allowed me to have structure in my lifestyle.

Finally, the skills developed from participating in sports such as intrinsic feedback, time management and resilience are applicable to every day life and academic work. The character development that sportspeople develop through participation is certainly transferable.”

Having been a dedicated student-athlete, do you have a standout sporting memory that holds a special place in your heart?

I have a few but the one that comes to mind instantly would be winning a bronze medal at British Summer Nationals.

At the start of the season, the aim was to make a final so to walk away with a medal was pretty awesome.”

Alongside representing the University of Surrey swimming teams in events across the country, you have also spearheaded the growth of the British Swimming University League. For those that do not know, can you inform them what is the BUSL and what your individual role was?

The British University Swimming League, or BUSL, is a league designed to provide additional competitive opportunities to students in the U.K. alongside the established BUCS format.

The BUSL and its format were established by myself and Jack Corston, with Jack having experience establishing and running the preceding National University Development League. We worked hard to develop a functional format and recruit teams to join the league. We also formed a committee of volunteer students who had specialised roles to ensure smooth functioning behind the scenes and in communications.

The BUSL now is in its third season, with 62 teams participating and holding an annual Finals Day for the top 32 teams. My role is broad and changing but I generally oversee all functions and assist where necessary. In my final year, I am stepping back slightly to a more advisory role.”

Above: Following his bronze triumph in the 50m Freestyle at the British Championships in 2022, Ewan led the University of Surrey swim team to BUSL Championship glory just a month later.

Balancing all of your of sports-related responsibilities, how have you effectively managed your time as a student-athlete?

Forward planning. Being aware of what you have on and the time commitments required is key. I always ensure that I prioritise my tasks, typically: academics, athletics and social – however, a mixture is essential.

On top of being able to plan, it’s important to be able to communicate with coaches, teachers, friends, colleagues etc when you are busy, struggling or stressed.”

Transitioning from a student-athlete to the professional world holds its own set of adjustments. How do you envision applying the skills and values you’ve cultivated through sports to your career path after graduating from the University of Surrey?

Participating in sports, being part of a team or running the club are all great qualities to have on your resume. Recruiters love them and they provide the chance to talk about your successes, skills and overcoming challenge.

Having worked for the past year, I found that the communication, time management and organisation developed from my time at University helped massively.”

Above: Ewan’s remarkable contributions to Surrey’s swimming program were recognised earlier this year when he was awarded the Leggett Trophy, honouring both his individual success and leadership in shaping the university’s sports landscape.

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