Five Griffith students awarded scholarships with Nation’s peak swimming body

Five students, all headed to Nationals in April, have been awarded Swimming Australia scholarships.

Griffith University’s academic and aquatic talent have been awarded coveted scholarships through a powerhouse partnership with the Nation’s premier body for swimming, Swimming Australia.

The $5,000 scholarships are tailored to assist gifted student-athletes commencing or continuing study whilst training to further their competitive careers.

Sports College Manager Naomi McCarthy OAM.

Former Olympic flagbearer and Sports College Manager Naomi McCarthy OAM said the awards help to address the transitional challenges faced by athletes as they move from junior to senior elite levels.

“There is often a large gap for talented junior athletes to navigate as they transition to senior teams,” McCarthy said.

“These scholarships provide support for swimming athletes as they strive towards a place in the senior Dolphins teams, which in many cases come a couple of years after they finish junior age swimming.

“These couple of years are crucial for swimmers to remain supported and continue to swim competitively during this time, the scholarships providing some assistance for them to do that whilst they are supported in their study at Griffith University.”

Recognising talent and potential, the scholarships also provide consideration to First Nations swimmers, para-athletes and those facing relocation expenses.

General Manager of Performance Pathways at Swimming Australia, Gary Barclay, said the organisation “appreciates the support provided by Griffith University towards our athletes on their competitive and academic journey.”

“Life as an elite athlete and university student is extremely challenging,” he said.

“To fully commit as both a full-time athlete whilst pursuing a degree is a tough juggle.

“Scholarships like the ones offered by Griffith University are an enormous help for our athletes and allows them to pursue two dreams simultaneously.”

The five recipients for 2024 include:

  • Mia Feltham (Bachelor of Exercise Science)
  • Sally Vagg (Bachelor of Communication and Journalism / Bachelor of Political Science and International Relations)
  • Bailey Lello (Bachelor of Business)
  • Karl Albertyn (Bachelor of Sport Development / Bachelor of Business)
  • Charlotte Hansen (Bachelor of Physiotherapy)
Junior swimming star and BA Journalism and Communications, Political Science and International Relations student Sally Vagg.

Sally Vagg traded cattle country for city lights when she relocated from Rockhampton to Brisbane, commencing a dual degree in Journalism and Communications, Political Science and International Relations.

On top of a full-time study load, the multi-national medallist balances 9 training sessions a week in the pool and another 3 sessions in the gym.

“I’ve always been really interested in human rights and I love writing, so journalism seemed like a good course to complement that as well as boost my career opportunities in the future,” she said.

The former junior Australian swim team athlete said the sports scholarship has been immensely helpful through her move, whilst the Sports College team have accommodated classes to fit with training.

“Naomi [McCarthy] has been super helpful, especially with Nationals coming up in April,” she said.

“This scholarship means I get some breathing room between moving out on my own for the first time which can be a bit expensive, working part time whilst also studying and training.

“I hope I can make a career out of swimming as long as my body will allow, but then doing this degree gives me another avenue, whether that’s working in government and policy or human rights and ethics.”

Swimming Australia Flippers Squad member and Bachelor of Exercise Science student Mia Feltham.

A typical week for Bachelor of Exercise Science student Mia Feltham involves 9 swim and 3 strength sessions, as well as 3 or 4 days each week on campus for a lab, prac or workshop.

The star breaststroker trains under Thomas Fraser-Holmes at Griffith and strength and conditioning coach Paul Haines.

“This scholarship is really important to me as it supports both my athletic and academic goals, aiding with associated costs to allow me to keep doing what I love,” she said.

“Following this degree, I hope to continue working in the sporting industry with athletes at elite levels, whether in a sports science or psychology sense.”

Of her many achievements, Feltham said she is particularly proud of her progress over the years, having won back-to-back national titles and snagging a spot as a member of the Swimming Australia Flippers Squad.

“I’m looking forward to the year of racing ahead with nationals in the next month and both Olympic and World Champs Trials within the next 4 to 6 months,” she said.

Past Junior World Champion representative and Sport Development and Business student Karl Albertyn.

Sport Development and Business student Karl Albertyn said “receiving the Swimming Australia scholarship is a tremendous honour and opportunity.”

Albertyn previously represented Australia at the Junior World Championships, now balancing a rigorous study and swim schedule.

The Miami Swim Club athlete is on campus 3 days a week for university, training mornings and evenings with coach Paul Croswell on top of 3 strength sessions.

“This scholarship provides financial support and access to resources that will enable me to focus on my training and competition goals while enabling me to pursue academic excellence,” he said.

Post-university, Albertyn hopes to apply his Sport Development and Business degree towards a career in sports management, event planning, or athlete representation.

“I want to be able to make a meaningful impact and contribute to the growth and success of the sports industry,” he said.

“Looking forward, I’m excited about the prospect of competing at higher levels and continuing to push my limits to achieve new milestones in my athletic career.”

The future of swimming will be on show at the Australian Age Championships from the 6-14 April at the Gold Coast Aquatic Centre. Tickets available here.