Greater Shepparton City Council honoured one of its longest serving volunteers in swim teacher Willy O’Callaghan at the Ordinary Council Meeting held on Tuesday 16 April.
Willy was formally acknowledged for her 60 years of service to swimming in Greater Shepparton and the wider Goulburn Valley region with the name of the Aquamoves Indoor Aquatic Environment officially changed to the Willy O’Callaghan Pool Hall.
Throughout the past 60 years, Willy has been instrumental in the development and growth of the Shepparton Swimming Club, Goulburn Valley Masters and Shepparton Life Saving Club.
While Willy competed at a high level of swimming herself, she is better known for her passion in coaching and mentoring.
She has had a positive impact on the health and wellbeing of many thousands of children and adults in Greater Shepparton.
Willy’s coaching journey started in 1959, when she founded ‘Willy’s Wagtails’. Soon after, Willy took the role of head coach of the Shepparton Swimming Club.
She would go on to serve in this position until her retirement in mid-2017, playing a major role in the swimming careers and lives of countless Greater Shepparton residents.
Council Mayor Cr Kim O’Keeffe paid tribute to Willy and her commitment to swimming in Greater Shepparton.
“I remember as a 7-year-old I was part of the Shepparton Life Saving Club under Willy,” she said.
“The way she treated not only me, but every one of us in that club is a credit to Willy.
“For her encouragement and support, this recognition is richly deserved. Sporting groups and clubs in our region need people like Willy to survive, and I am confident the Shepparton Swim Club wouldn’t be where it is today if it wasn’t for her.”
Willy still provides regular one-on-one swimming lessons for athletes looking to take their craft to the next level. She remains a mentor to Michelle Swift, who replaced her as the head coach of the Shepparton Swim Club.
Willy was also celebrated at a special Diamond Jubilee event held at the Emerald Bank Woolshed in Shepparton last Saturday evening, giving those impacted by her 60 year career a chance to acknowledge her incredible contribution to Shepparton Swimming.