Top SCTA Coaching Gong Goes to Dean Boxall (St Peters Western) for a Record Fourth Time

St Peters Western Head Coach Dean Boxall has tonight won a record fourth prestigious Swimming Coaches And Teachers Australia (SCTA) Coach of the Year Award on the Gold Coast.

Boxall coached his star pupils Ariarne Titmus and Mollie O’Callaghan to three individual gold medals – two of them in world record time at this year’s World Aquatics Championships in Fukuoka.

Titmus, who just this week revealed she had to undergo emergency surgery to remove benign tumors from one of her ovaries, won the much-vaunted women’s 400m freestyle “Race Of The Century” in world record time – saying she was thankful to know she would make a full recovery and would start swimming again in two to three weeks.

While O’Callaghan also set a new world record to beat Titmus over 200m freestyle, also defending her 100m freestyle crown.

Titmus and O’Callaghan then joined Brisbane’s St Peters Western clubmates Shayna Jack and Brianna Throssell to win the 4x200m freestyle relay – also in world record time as the Dolphins swept to 13 gold medals.

Boxall beat an all-star field of nominations: Michael Bohl – Kaylee McKeown (Gold 50, 100 and 200 backstroke); Tim Lane – Cameron McEvoy (Gold 50 Freestyle); Peter Bishop – Kyle Chalmers (Gold 100 Freestyle) and Damien Jones – Sam Short (Gold 400 Freestyle).

Other major winners presented with their awards at The Star Casino ballroom were Kate Sparks (Yeronga Park, QLD) who was named the Open Water Coach of the Year and the Multi Class Coach of the Year while Richard Sleight (St Peters Western) was named Age Group Coach of the Year.

Sparkes steered Rio Olympian Chelsea Gubecka, who was in the room tonight, onto her second Olympic team after her silver medal in the 10k at the Fukuoka World Championships.

As well as coaching Paralympic gold medallists Rowan Crothers to two gold and Katja Dedekind to one gold at the Para World Championships in Manchester.

Sleight led the St Peters Western team to another coveted and much sought after National Age Pointscore and he has just returned from the World Junior Championship in Israel where he coached Jamie Perkins to gold in the women’s 400 freestyle and Jacyln Barclay to gold in the 100 backstroke.

A record number of nominations were received for the Swim Australia teaching awards with Canberra’s Rhiannon Kocmar of Aquatots ACT winning the much sought after 2023 Teacher of the Year.

Rhiannon has been a swimming instructor for over 21 years, dedicating and nurturing the next generation of swim instructors.

She goes beyond her role by providing comprehensive qualifying courses, where she imparts not only technical skills but also instils her infectious enthusiasm for swimming. Her students are empowered to become effective and empathetic instructors who prioritize safety and enjoyment in the water.

Rhiannon’s commitment to her craft is exemplified by her impactful work as a swim instructor in Thailand through Rotary.

Her selfless efforts have not only enriched the lives of countless individuals but have also contributed significantly to the mission of water safety awareness. Her ability to connect with diverse audiences and tailor her teaching methods to various learning styles is truly commendable.

There was also a Highly Commended Award for Teacher of the Year which went to

Henry Taylor from Alpha Learn to Swim in Queensland

Henry has been teaching/coaching in regional Queensland for the past 27 years and is a pillar of the Central Queensland community teaching children how to swim and making them safer around water.

The 2023 SWIM Australia Teacher of the Year for Learners with Disability went to Kelli-Jane Smith, from Little Snappers Swim School, Queensland.

Kelli-Jane has been teaching for 28 years and is currently developing an alternative needs program for Little Snappers.

Kelli, who holds a Diploma and Degree in Sports Psychology, has adopted the “To, For, With, Alone” teaching methodology to maximise engagement and learning outcomes for her students, her peers and in providing education and advice to the parents and professionals within the wider swim community.

While the 2023 SWIM Australia Teacher of the Year for Babies & Toddlers award went to

Alena Sarri from Aquatots, ACT

Alena has been teaching babies classes for the past 21 years and is the director of Aquatots Swim School. Alena is also a Diamond status teacher.

Her ability to create engaging and enjoyable lessons captivates both babies and parents alike, fostering a love for water activities that extends well beyond the pool.

Alena’s knowledge and experience has been tapped into on the world circuit with Alena presenting at the Austrian Baby conference and the Nordic Swim Conference.

Ian Hanson OAM