Swimming Australia joins the millions of people worldwide collectively seeking to #EmbraceEquity

 March 08, 2023

"This International Women’s Day, Swimming Australia is joining the millions of people worldwide collectively seeking to #EmbraceEquity," commented Swimming Australia in support of International Women's Day.

"The 2023 theme asks us to Imagine a gender equal world. A world free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination. A world that’s diverse, equitable, and inclusive. A world where difference is valued and celebrated," said Swimming Australia.

"One of the many avenues through which to #EmbraceEquity is to celebrate women’s achievement and, while Australian swimming is fortunate to have countless examples, both past and present, of incredible female achievement in the pool, we also have a number of inspiring female leaders driving the success of the sport out of the water," reinforced the group.

For International Women’s Day 2023, Swimming Australia created a highly impressive #EmbraceEquity series featuring talented women from within their arena. The series included respected career sporting administrator and Swimming Australia’s current High Performance Director, Tamara Sheppard who we hear from below.

Further profiles as part of Swimming Australia's #EmbraceEquity series included:

  • Kirin Lindop who has forged an impressive career to date in various roles across a number of sports including with the Cronulla Sharks in the NRL, Cricket NSW and as the CEO of Athletics NSW prior to joining Swimming Australia as the Executive General Manager, Sport Development
  • Dr Michelle Gallen who is a lifelong swimming advocate, a former elite athlete, holds a PhD in International Sports Law and is Swimming Australia’s President
  • Mel Tantrum who is Swimming Australia’s Technical Lead for Western Australia and South Australia
  • Jess Corones who is one of the most respected and experienced members of Swimming Australia’s High Performance team, Swimming Insight & Olympic Campaign Lead
  • Janelle Pallister who is Australian Dolphin #370 and current Assistant Coach at the leading Griffith University club
  • Jodie Hawkins who is a decorated sports administrator having served in a variety of influential roles across the country’s most popular codes, including as the former General Manager of the Sydney Sixers, and is now Swimming Australia’s current Executive General Manager – Commercial and Marketing

Swimming Australia plays a key role in encouraging girls and women into the sport. Swimming Australia is the peak governing body for swimming with nearly 1,000 clubs and 90,000 registered members in Australia. Swimming is unique as it is a life-skill, a sport and a recreation.

Swimming Australia’s vision is to create a nation of swimmers admired by the world. Striving towards this vision every day through inspiring Australians to be the best swimmer they can be – from grass roots community participation through to elite level swimmers representing our country and themselves on the global stage.

Their sustainability strategy propels them to be the kindest sport on the planet with a positive carbon footprint and amplification of causes that are good for people and the planet. Swimming Australia's focus is to be a champion of sustainability for oceans and waterways and improve the well-being of Australians through the power and joy of swimming. 

Apparently, swimming is the biggest participation sport in Australia.

Supported by leaders who believed in her

Tamara Sheppard's leadership style is inspired by those who are "obsessed with creating more leaders." These people have inspired Tamara to be purpose-driven and consistently chase performance whilst supporting others.

"I have been fortunate to have bosses that believed in me when I couldn’t. Through being generous with their time to nurture me and at times telling what I needed to hear not what I wanted to hear. I have learnt that you don’t need to be someone that you are not and embrace your authentic self. All those that inspired me to find the fun in the journey, be purpose driven and be brave in the pursuit of performance. Those that I am grateful to have worked for, with or in a system to learn and be inspired by – Alex Baumann, David Crocker, Chelsea Warr, Greg Shaw, Kate Hutchison, Rohan Taylor, Jess Corones and Jonathan Grady," says Tamara.

Inspired by her dad's impact on communities

Tamara's dad, who passed away recently, was also and is her biggest inspiration. A primary school principal, he worked in remote communities to create environments that impacted communities to ensure everyone had access to an education.

"Education and learning changes lives. He taught me to be curious, kind and always put your hand out to help others. He was my biggest fan and my toughest critic but lifted me up at every opportunity to help me be who I am today," explains Tamara.

Creating an environment that drives success

Tamara sees herself as really fortunate and grateful to work with many talented coaches, athletes and staff in the pursuit of performance when it matters the most. "It is uncompromising and requires a commitment to the process," says Tamara.

In her job, Tamara gets the most satisfaction when she is able to lead an environment that is focused and calm. For Tamara, this enables others to feel confident and joyous to achieve more than they thought possible.

"To be able to play a small role in creating this environment for others to achieve more than they thought possible brings me the most satisfaction. It isn’t about the medals but the process of how we can support and grow our people to be the best versions of ourselves in and out of the pool," explains Tamara.

Fostering pathways for female leaders

Furthermore, Tamara describes what needs to be done to foster the pathway for female leaders.

"Continue to create and promote structures to find and nurture women on their journey as leaders. If we get this right we can inspire women across the system to follow their dreams and realize that with talent, passion and determination, there is no limit to what they can achieve," comments Tamara.

"Everyone has a role to play in nurturing talent, investing your time to help others on their path. What we do as leaders when no one is watching to support others can be more impactful and meaningful to nurture the talent that exists in the system. Everyone has a role to play to lean in to help future leaders explore and achieve what they never thought possible," adds Tamara.

Sharing important career advice 

If she had to start her career again, Tamara would share the following advice with herself: "Be brave not perfect; learn to own your achievements and not minimize and hide them; live in your strengths; to listen and learn you have to stop talking; being vulnerable can be your strength - crying is ok and good for you and isn’t weakness; embrace being uncomfortable as it means you are growing; not everything is a competition."

No dream is too big, no ceiling too high

Finally, Tamara shares what the IWD campaign theme #EmbraceEquity means to her. 

"Showing all women, young and old, that no dream is too big and ceiling is too high. We have an opportunity on a daily basis to be fearless in the face of any challenge and keep setting our ambitions high. We all must be uncompromising to lift others up," adds Tamara.

Read more of Swimming Australia's impressive #EmbraceEquity profiles



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