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Swimming scholar's stroke of genius

Vice Chancellor’s Elite Scholarship holder Sophie Healy.

by Trin Tongsiri

As a junior swimmer, Sophie Healy broke a record set by a young Kaylee McKeown who would go on to win three Olympic gold medals.

It was a performance that marked the young South Australian out as a rising star of Australian swimming.

Although she ultimately chose not to continue with the sport at the elite level, Ms Healy credits swimming with her success in a different pursuit – knowledge.

Ms Healy came to Bond University on a Vice Chancellor’s Elite Scholarship, awarded annually to a small number of students who excel not only academically but demonstrate a record of leadership and service to their community.

She is currently studying a Bachelor of International Relations/Bachelor of Laws, a double degree which equips graduates for careers such as politics, diplomacy and international law.

“My competitive swimming journey began at 11 when I qualified for a South Australian State Championship at a school swimming competition,” Ms Healy said.

“As I began to train more, I saw great success in the sport. 

“Soon enough I was training 20 hours a week, year in and year out, and swimming was my sole focus.”

Ms Healy broke 15 South Australian swimming records.

“In 2018 I broke the State Teams Championship record in the 200m individual medley short course, previously held by Australian Dolphin Kaylee McKeown,” she said.

“All the tears and hard work paid off when I saw my success on numerous occasions when I touched the wall.

“It certainly was a euphoric feeling that I can’t really explain - I think it is just a feeling of being proud of yourself.”

Ms Healy had the chance to participate in World Junior Championships as a part of the Junior Australian Swimming Team but her dreams were cut short by COVID-19.

“The most notable and significant moment in my swimming career was in 2021 when I was selected on the Junior Australian Swimming Team for the 200m individual medley to compete at the World Junior Championships in Russia that year,” she said.

 “Unfortunately, it did not eventuate because of COVID.”

 However, she still saw success in and out the pool.

“I was fortunate enough to be picked up by Funkita Swimwear as an ambassador for five years and I also received a scholarship from the South Australian Institute of Sport in 2021. 

“Despite my love for swimming fading, it taught me so many invaluable life lessons and skills that have transferred into all aspects of my life,” she said.

“The sport taught me determination and dedication because swimming is not linear and was gruelling both physically and mentally.”

She credits swimming with securing her Vice Chancellor’s Elite Scholarship to Bond University.

“Without my swimming success and the lessons I gained from the sport, I don’t believe I would have achieved the academic results I did,” she said.

“I don’t think I would be at Bond without swimming.”

Ms Healy is approaching the end of her first year at Bond, with another two remaining.

“Bond makes you feel so welcome, and I believe that is what makes it so unique,” she said.

“I am so incredibly grateful to Bond for taking a chance on me.”

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