By Josh Rakic
WHILE she regards winning Paralympic silver and bronze as her greatest achievement, new Across The Waves (ATW) swimming coach Tracy Oliver said giving back to swimming was just as satisfying.
One of Bundaberg's greatest sporting exports, Oliver was offered an assistant coaching job mid-2006 at the then-struggling ATW club and in October succeeded former head coach Fred Meyer.
Her fun-based methods have revived the club and have seen as many as 15 new members join during the summer, to learn from the woman who has been there and done it all.
Oliver attributes the growing success of her students to her motto of "swim for yourself and no one else".
"The kids are really starting to enjoy themselves and are training harder and harder, because they realise now they only need to impress themselves," Oliver said.
"Their confidence is growing as the weeks go on, and I've had a lot of parents comment on how much the kids are enjoying the classes.
"Everyone's doing PBs (personal bests) and that's what really matter to me.
"That the kids are doing as best they can and hopefully learning from me to do better.
"I think it helps because I can relate to their struggles, which means they can relate to me.
"I'd definitely say that seeing them enjoy their swimming is, for me, on par with the Olympics."
The ATW club now boasts 35 members and continues to grow, while last weekend the club claimed a big haul of medals from a meet in Kilkivan.
Tye Burt dominated his division with three gold and two silver medals, while Jessica Tandy (one bronze), and Bianca (five bronze) and Alex Ostorga (one silver and three bronze) flew the flag strongly.
Oliver said while she was proud of the medals, it was more rewarding to see them and eight others qualify for the Wide Bay Championships, to be held in Noosa this weekend.
"Seeing the kids happy with their results makes me happy," she said.