|WORLD Champion Dolphins Mollie O’Callaghan and Rowan Crothers, and World silver medallist Chelsea Gubecka (pictured) have capped their extraordinary 2023 campaigns with the top prizes at 2023 Swimming Australia Awards at The Pullman Hotel in Brisbane.
Twelve months out from Paris Olympics, the trio reaffirmed their positions as premier athletes on the international stage, claiming the Olympic, Paralympic and Open Water Swimmer of the Year awards respectively.
If 2022 represented the remarkable rise of O’Callaghan – 2023 cemented her place as one of the world’s best. The 19-year-old became a two-time world champion in Fukuoka winning the 100m free and the 200m free – the later in world record time as she lowered the elusive 14-year-old Federica Pellegrini record.
O’Callaghan also helped Australia to three relay gold medals, two of these also in world record time.
For Crothers, the five-time world champion defended his 50m and 100m world championship titles in Manchester to maintain his claim as fastest freestyle sprinter with a disability in the world.
Chelsea Gubecka meantime was named Open Water Swimmer of the Year after her silver medal effort in the 10km at the World Championships in Fukuoka and her bronze medal in the 4x1500m mixed relay. Chelsea was also recently announced as the first athlete selected for the Paris 2024 Australian Olympic Team.
Swimming Australia Interim CEO Steve Newman congratulated the star Dolphins trio on their incredible achievements.
“We are immensely proud of all that Rowan, Mollie and Chelsea have achieved this year and fortunate to have ambassadors for our sport like them that represent our values of courage, unity and excellence,” Newman said.
“The Dolphins have had an incredible year of success. First on the medal table in Fukuoka in the pool, a top six finish on the medal table at the Para World Championships, and our best result for our Open Water team at the World Aquatics World Championships.
“This team continues to set the standard and, in doing so, inspires the next generation of Dolphins. Tonight, has been a fitting celebration of what all our athletes have achieved, in conjunction with their coaches and the support staff.”
The 2023 Swimming Australia Awards also marked a significant celebration of the sport’s history, with the second unveiling of the Swimming Australia Hall of Fame, established to recognise and celebrate those who have left an indelible mark on the sport at the international level.
Australian swimming royalty Lorraine Crapp (Dolphin #75), the late Murray Rose (Dolphin #101) and Susie O’Neill (Dolphin #385) were all inducted.
Dean Boxall was crowned Olympic Coach of the Year while Kate Sparkes won both Paralympic Coach of the Year and Open Water Coach of the Year.
Richard Sleight was awarded the National Age Coach of the Year after the success of the St Peters Western club at the 2023 Australian Age Championships, with Michaela Pattinson named Youth Coach of the Year for her work with the Junior Dolphins.
Alexa Leary was named AIS Discovery of the Year following her breakthrough rookie campaign at the Manchester Para World Swimming Championships.
Olivia Wunsch was named the Flippers Athlete of the Year after a season that saw her star on the world stage with the Junior Dolphins at the recent Junior World Championships, while young swimmer Eli Jack Bruggemann was named the Pho3nix Junior Excellence Swimmer of the Year.
Athlete leader Madi Wilson was also a popular winner upon being announced Swimmers’ Swimmer of the Year.
Other winners on the night included David Cooper as the Roger Smith Technical Official of the Year, WA swimming clubs Guilford and Kalamunda joint winners of Club of the Year and Tony Ball from Kwinana Swimming Club, in Western Australia, as Local Legend of the Year.
2023 Swimming Australia Awards winners
Olympic Program Swimmer of the Year
Paralympic Program Swimmer of the Year
Open Water Program Swimmer of the Year
AIS Discovery of the Year
Olympic Program Coach of the Year
Paralympic Program Coach of the Year
Open Water Program Coach of the Year
Roger Smith Technical Official of the Year
David Cooper (NSW)
Club of the Year
Guildford and Kalamunda
Local Legend of the Year
Tony Ball (WA)
Hall of Fame inductees
Flippers Swimmer of the Year
National Age Coach of the Year
Youth Coach of the Year
Pho3nix Foundation JX Swimmer of the Year
Eli Jack Bruggemann