Esc students met with Sue Dullard and her daughter Carla to find out about the Bendigo Aquatic Hawks.

Sue and Carla have often been referred to as Eaglehawk royalty as they are very much entrenched in the Eaglehawk community. They were originally members of Eaglehawk’s swimming club which was established in 1966. The Bendigo Swimming Club was established in 1916 and in 2011 and both clubs merged and became what’s known today as Bendigo Hawks Aquatic.

Carla is a coach and Sue is one of the administrators and life members. From a culture perspective, the Eaglehawk swimming club DNA is still very much part of the Bendigo Hawks Aquatic today because of people like Carla and Sue. It’s very rare that you get a mother and daughter combination who together have about forty years combined experience in swimming in Central Victoria. Carla has had some awesome achievements as a swimmer back in the day. And Sue is very well regarded and respected as an administrator across Swimming Victoria.

Carla first joined the Eaglehawk Swimming Club in 2002 at an early age. She went through primary and secondary school representing the Hawks at a lot of local competitions, at district, country, and state level.

Carla made many friends and would spend more time at the Eaglehawk pool than at school, which amounts to a lot of time.

“Swimming is my story, and the pool is my home away from home. It’s my favorite place in the world”.

“I really love coaching kids from five years old all the way to their teenage years. I think it’s the best job in the world, helping people, making friends with themselves, making friends with the water, and making friends with each other”.

Currently, Carla coaches across the different squads at Bendigo Hawks, and considers herself really fortunate to be part of an awesome coaching team.

“There’s lots of us on the team and we all work together to have a really fun time at the pool”.

Carla says her mum Sue is a very special human and has been a part of the Hawks forever. “Everyone calls her mama Sue. That’s how she’s known around Eaglehawk and Bendigo”.

Sue’s story begins when Carla started swimming. She went to a committee meeting and ended up treasurer. Over the years, Sue has taken on the roles of treasurer, Team Manager, and Secretary with Eaglehawk.

Carla decided to make swimming a hobby because “I loved the way the water felt. I’m a bit clumsy on land and I love all kinds of sports. I used to play netball and do running. But I loved the way the water felt. I loved being underwater. I loved how fast you could go. And most importantly, I made really good friends and that was a big part of swimming”.

The family aspect of the club was strong, especially when Carla was competing. Carla and Sue spent more time with other families swimming than they did with their own family. This was because training would be up to ten times a week, and on weekends, you were at swim meets. In retrospect, Carla believes she has been very fortunate to meet some amazing people along her journey and to remain friends with them.

Carla described the preparation needed to be involved in swimming:

“You can train anywhere between one to two hours in the water in the morning or at night. You also need half an hour of stretching, or what we call activation, which is just warming up your muscles before you hop into the water. Part of the preparation is also about making sure you’re putting good food into your body so you’ve got that energy, especially after school”.

Carla has always had the motivation to get up every morning and to compete. Her motivation comes from her mother and family, and having Sue’s support meant that Carla was never alone. There was also a great committee proving that the people behind the club are the ones that make the club possible.

“What motivated me was that I was never by myself, and there was always someone there believing in me and that I could do it”.

“I knew whenever my name was going to get called out there’d be someone cheering in the crowd for me. Even if I got to the end of the pool, and maybe it wasn’t my best array, it didn’t matter because there was always someone to help me at the end of the pool, to reflect to improve”.

“Swimming is so much more about who you are as a person”.
“You’re always a person first. And swimming is one of the things that you do. But the skills you learn help you to be a better student and a better person. And they help you to be connected to a community. And being connected to a community is really important because it’s bigger than you. And I think that’s a really special thing. And it’s probably why mum and I have hung around for two decades because it gives us a chance to give back to the community that raised us as well”.

“I reckon the other important thing to say is, I wasn’t always at those meets just for my own events. Quite often, I went to those events because I was part of a relay team. And that is probably the coolest thing about swimming – it’s you and three other teammates. And that’s electric when you get to be there with your teammates”.

“I used to get so nervous. So I used to be the kid at the end of the pool being nervous all the time. But one of the coolest things that my coach taught me, and it’s something that I really love teaching our athletes today, is the difference between anticipation and nervousness and excitement or even fear. What do all those emotions have in common? It’s sort of half negative or positive, meaning that you’re excited, but you’re also not knowing what’s going to happen”.

“To anyone that really likes swimming or just going to the pool and hanging out at the pool. You are really welcome to come and meet us at Bendigo Hawks and jump in and just have a go. It doesn’t matter how old you are or what abilities your body can do on land. Everyone can swim in the pool. It’s a sport for everyone. It’s the most inclusive sport around so if anyone was feeling unsure and they want to come and check it out, all of us coaches are very, very friendly. Our committee is very friendly and we’re going to be at Eaglehawk from the start of May if anyone wants to come and say hello”.

“The Bendigo Hawks Aquatic is more than a swimming club – It’s a big family”.


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