Liz Avery – it’s a name synonymous within the Australian swimming community.
Affectionately known as ‘Lizzie’, the dedicated and passionate Swimming Australia employee has recently been recognised for her exceptional commitment to UniSport Australia.
Having successfully managed UniSport’s swimming event for the past 18 years, Liz’s name will now forever be etched into its history after it announced the National Women’s Perpetual Swimming Trophy would be named in her honour.
Upon hearing the news, an astounded Liz said she was very humbled to receive such a tribute.
“It’s just amazing, honestly who gets a trophy named after them? I was pretty shocked and amazed, it’s pretty cool – and it will be a very special feeling when the first trophy is presented,” she said.
That moment took place in Sydney at the weekend when Bond University was crowned the inaugural winner of the perpetual trophy, which is awarded to the women’s champion university swim team at the UniSport Nationals Swimming event.
Lizzie’s 20-year career in swimming was initially sparked by her daughters, who took up the sport as children. Not wanting to merely sit on the sidelines, she decided to dive in and get involved in her local club.
“Both my girls were swimming and so I became race secretary of Ginninderra – which I am now a life member of.
“From there I then got a position with ACT Swimming, which at that time happened to be in the same building as Swimming Australia. I then got poached by Swimming Australia to be its information officer and I’m still here 20 years later,” she chuckled.
Two years later, having been responsible for entries, results and rankings, Liz began managing the Australian University Games swimming competition – a role she thoroughly relished.
“I did the entries, but on the ground, I also managed the swimming. There was nothing about it that was hard because I loved it.”
Reflecting on her most memorable and rewarding moments from her career to date, Liz said she always gets a kick out of entering world records, while checking rankings was also a highlight.
“I’ll never forget my first world record when Grant Hackett broke the 800m world record half way through the 1500,” she said.
“Any world record I’ve had to process is always exciting, even after all this time I still get excited when I enter a world record, and I like the updating the rankings, I love that a lot.”
Even after two decades, when Lizzie talks about why she’s stayed involved in swimming for so long you can hear the passion and joy in her voice.
“I just love to see the kids achieve and reach their goals,” she said.
“The best part of my job is going to the meets – although that’s the busiest and most tiring – but when you see them achieve and get on team it’s very rewarding. Age champs is also so exciting because they do personal bests and win their first medal and you can watch them from when they’re 13 years old. I just love to follow their journey and see them achieve their goals.”
Every member of the Swimming Australia team is presented with a shiny silver pin etched with a number when they begin their journey – much like when a Dolphin receives their swimmer pin number (an initiative of CEO Leigh Russell) – and it’s no surprise that ‘Lizzie’ proudly and rightly wears the No.1.