Mollie O'Callaghan
Mollie O'Callaghan won the performance of the year for her 200m freestyle world record swim. Image by AP PHOTO
  • sport

Swimming honoured at AIS awards ahead of Olympics

Roger Vaughan November 29, 2023

World record-breaking Australian swimmers Mollie O’Callaghan and Kaylee McKeown have headlined the honours as their sport dominated the AIS Performance Awards.

Swimming won six of the 13 award categories on Wednesday night at the Australian Institute of Sport annual awards function in Melbourne.

As the AIS builds to next year’s Paris Olympics and Paralympics, swim team head coach Rohan Taylor, para athlete Alexa Leary and sports scientist Jessica Corones were also honoured, along with Swimming Australia’s Dolphins team.

O’Callaghan’s 200m freestyle world record earned her the top award of the evening for performance of the year.

She beat a star-studded field – canoeist Jessica Fox, diver Cassiel Rousseau, para triathlete and cyclist Lauren Parker, sailing’s Matthew Wearn and fellow swim star Ariarne Titmus.

O’Callaghan’s record-breaking swim at the July world championships in Japan broke the sport’s longest-standing world record at the pool, set in 2009.

Taylor was named coach of the year and the Dolphins, who topped the gold medal tally in the pool at the worlds, won the high performance program category.

“It’s very humbling – we don’t do it for these things, but be recognised is really an honour,” Taylor said.

“I’m just privileged to have this role and work with really great people.

“It’s really nice to be recognised, for all the people, for all the hard work that’s being done.”

Taylor said the team welcomes the growing pressure ahead of the Paris Games.

“I’ve said many times, we’ve earned the pressure. The athletes on the team, the coaches, they love it – regardless of the outcome, they want to take up that challenge,” he said.

McKeown, was named female athlete of the year for winning all three backstroke events at the world titles and also breaking the 200m backstroke world record.

Corones, a key member of Swimming Australia’s support staff, won the leadership award and Leary was named the top emerging athlete.

Wearne was named male athlete of the year, while track and field sprinter James Turner won the men’s para category.

Parker took out the women’s para category after she won world titles in triathlon and cycling.

ASPA AWARD WINNERS

Emerging Athlete of the Year: Alexa Leary, Swimming Australia

Community Engagement Award: Amy Parmenter, Netball Australia

Award for Leadership: Jessica Corones, Swimming Australia

High Performance Program of the Year: The Dolphins, Swimming Australia

Volunteer of the Year: Elysa Oliveri, Cricket Australia

Male Able-Athlete of the Year: Matt Wearn, Australian Sailing

Male Para-Athlete of the Year: James Turner, Athletics Australia

Female Para-Athlete of the Year: Lauren Parker, AusTriathlon and AusCycling

Female Able-Athlete of the Year: Kaylee McKeown, Swimming Australia

Win Well Award: Archery Australia

Coach of the Year: Rohan Taylor, Swimming Australia

Team of the Year: BC3 Pairs (para), Boccia Australia

Performance of the Year: Mollie O’Callaghan, Swimming Australia