Swimming Australia recently announced it is partnering with Australian universities to help bolster their high performance program after the Australian Sport Commission announced their funding allocations for Olympic sports until the end of the financial year.
Swimming have already set up programs with Bond University and the University of the Sunshine Coast, and are looking to expand.
“I agree wholeheartedly with Swimming Australia’s approach; universities can be willing partners in centres of excellence type programs, and the Bond and Sunshine Coast swimming programs are prime examples of this. There are many other good working examples of NSO (National Sporting Organisations) and university partnerships," said Australian University Sport Chief Executive Officer, Don Knapp.
"There is ample evidence that elite student-athletes perform well on the international stage and in particular, at Olympic and Commonwealth Games. We are now seeing the increasing significance of the performances of student-athletes in the Australian Olympic team. Where in previous teams, student-athletes represented less than half the total team but won the majority of medals; to 2016 in Rio, where student-athletes comprised 57% of the Australian team and brought home 61% of the medals."
Student-athletes are not only able to train at first class facilities and earn a higher education degree at top Australian universities, they are also given a chance to compete in world class international competitions with the Uniroos through the International University Sports Federation’s World University Championships and the Summer and Winter Universiades (World University Games).
"The higher education environment encourages excellence, while providing academic support, access to training facilities, and a generally positive atmosphere. There is also a well-established pathway to the Olympic podium via the World University Summer Games, as evidenced by student-athletes like Dani Samuels, Cate Campbell, Dane Bird-Smith and Catherine Skinner as recent examples," Knapp added.
Of the 42 student-athletes that medalled in Rio, seven of them were former Uniroos and gained valuable experience through their experience in international competitions.