AUSTSWIM Ambassadors

Brook Hanson - Head Shot

Brooke Hanson - OAM 

As an Austswim ambassador for over 13 years I’ve always been proud to bring greater awareness to AUSTSWIM.

Swimming, water safety and the importance of water awareness in, on and around all aquatic environments needs to be an integral part of living in Australia.

Although I’m an Olympic champion swimmer, I know the importance of learning to swim after almost drowning twice as a baby. It’s those two almost tragic incidents that provide me with so much inspiration to spread the message.

Being taught to swim by an AUSTSWIM Licensed Teacher and learning a skill for life has become part of my passion and purpose. I’m fortunate to spread the AUSTSWIM messages through my media roles and work at community, sport, school, charity and corporate levels.

Learning lifesaving water safety skills gives every person a chance to enjoy the water and feel the freedom and contentment that comes with participating in water-based activities. I’m a big believer in finding purpose, showing passion and in giving back.

My passion for learning to swim and water safety is more important than ever as a mother.

I’m a mum of three kids who love the water, they do weekly swimming lessons and our eldest does squad swimming. As a mother, I can see the joy that water brings and the confidence and happiness.

I’m inspired by the work that everyone at AUSTSWIM continues to do; from accreditation and support services to the state managers, presenters, assessors, sponsors, partners and, most importantly, our valued teachers.

To the entire AUSTSWIM family, I’m honoured to be your ambassador. Continue to shine, be the very best that you can be and remember that passion, purpose, belief and commitment are the keys to success. Keep smiling.

Brooke is a professional motivational keynote speaker, energy health presenter, master of ceremonies, Ted x speaker and facilitator.

Yours Swimmingly 

BROOKE HANSON, AUSTSWIM AMBASSADOR 

To find out more about Brooke, or to contact her directly, visit her website here.

Matt Haanapel - Head ShotMatt Haanappel - OAM

Matt Haanappel OAM is a Paralympic Gold Medalist, having competed at London 2012, Rio 2016 and the Commonwealth Games in 2018. Matt has worked as a Leisure professional creating – among other things – Inclusive Learn to Swim opportunities for all, and now works in the media sector.

However, these great successes were not without struggle. Mat and his family were faced with significant barriers towards participating in Learn to Swim programs in the 1990s and 2000s, in an industry that was broadly at the time not inclusive or equitable.  

Kathy, Matt's mother, would go from leisure centre to leisure centre to find both a swim school and a teacher that would seek to support and teach her son. Kathy tried her son in upwards of 10 individual programs after experiencing various issues, the most concerning of which included a teacher leaving Matt on the side of the pool. The teacher was unable to think outside the box to work around Matt's disability and get the most out of his body for swimming. Matt was put in the 'too hard’ basket.  

Matt would be 8 years old before being partnered with a teacher that had experience teaching swimming to individuals recovering from strokes, using a system called 'The Halliwick Concept' as the basis for this teaching.  

We are lucky as an aquatics industry and at AUSTSWIM that much has changed to support the teaching of all, regardless of ability. We are looking forward to having Matt Haanappel OAM onboard as an program ambassador in AUSTSWIM's Removing Barriers. initiative. 

Rachael Watson - Head ShotRachael Watson

Hi everyone! I'm super excited to come on board with AUSTSWIM as an ambassador. 

For those who don't know me, my name is Rachael Watson and I'm a Paralympian. However, I also used to be an AUSTSWIM Teacher of Swimming and Water Safety before unfortunately a medical condition caused me to be unable to do this. I am looking into ways I may be still able to get back teaching.  

I was born prematurely and due to this I have mild cerebral palsy. I was able to live a relatively independent life and – whilst studying early childhood education at university – I taught toddlers right through to teenagers, delivering different types of water safety and swimming lessons. I also taught some children with disabilities and students from a multicultural background, which I really enjoyed. 

This leads me to tell you all about why I'm so passionate about AUSTSWIM's new Removing Barriers initiative. As the name suggests, we are looking at removing barriers which directly affect the participation outcomes in regards to people with a disability. To do this, the program will provide scholarships to upskill teachers to become equipped with the knowledge that will allow them to adapt programs for people with a disability. However, the program will also identify and find solutions to the issues which often see non-participation in swimming by people with a disability. 

As I am now in a wheelchair since acquiring Guillain-Barré syndrome at the age of 21, I have experienced many of the issues that come with this sort of impairment from inaccessibility to negative attitudes of people. However, I have also experienced many positives that aquatic immersion provides for neurological conditions. 

In Tokyo, I represented Australia in Swimming at my second Paralympics and I was extremely honoured to have had this opportunity to do what I love.