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Coach supported by AIS grant leads medley relay team to World Record

27 September 2023

The AIS Experiential Learning Program (ELP) helped rising coach Casey Atkins get to Manchester, United Kingdom for the 2023 Para World Swimming Championships.

Casey Atkins stands in front of a swimming pool with a group of athletes at the 2023 Para World Swimming Championships.
Casey Atkins (far left) at the 2023 Para World Swimming Championships.

Atkins is one of 11 emerging women coaches to receive the inaugural ELP grant which assists with travel costs to major competitions. The program aims to help women coaches gain experience on the world stage.

Atkins joined the Dolphins on their staging camp in Chartres, France before accompanying the team to the UK where her athletes swam to success. Under Atkin’s guidance the S14 mixed 4x100 Medley relay took gold and set a world record.

“I was very proud of this swim because they came together as a team, with each athlete swimming their relay leg faster than their individual 100m events in the days prior,” Atkins said.

Atkins said that making her first Aussie team and experiencing how an international competition runs has been invaluable.

“During world championships there are so many extra pressures and challenges that athletes and coaches need to face, overcome and problem solve for.”

Atkins worked on staying calm, clear and steady in her tone and body language when she spoke with athletes.

“But also kept my energy up and kept joking with them.”

A highlight was seeing an athlete claim bronze in the S4 50m Freestyle after overcoming a series of setbacks which they had worked through together.

She said this first-hand experience at the championships would help her prepare athletes for future international competition.

Swimming Australia Paralympic Performance Coach Greg Towle said that it was brilliant to see Atkins further establish herself as a coach operating in an elite environment.

“Casey brings passion, empathy and a youthful enthusiasm which has been nothing but a positive addition to the team. The grant has not only benefited Casey and her development, it has also unearthed a fantastic young swim coach,” he said.

Towle said finding and retaining coaches who could deliver on the international stage could be challenging, but the ELP grant showed how effective offering the right opportunities to emerging coaches could be.

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