Mick O'Neill Award dinner


Josh Brien 2014 Mick O'Neill Award winner

Josh Brien with his parents                           Stuart Brien & Jasna Macola 

Mick O’Neill Encouragement Award 2014

The April Club dinner saw Members acknowledge and congratulate a young swimmer with the “Mick O’Neill” Encouragement Award.

  This award is generously presented by the Ballarat Sportsmen’s Club in memory of Club member & Past President Mick O’Neill who passed away in 2001.     Mick was the driving force behind swimming in Ballarat and the formation of the Ballarat swim club.  Mick became interested in coaching and commenced the club’s traditional Tuesday and Thursday evening sessions developing the younger swimmers, and is still continued today. It was suggested by the clubs committee on Mick’s passing that his contribution to swimming always be remembered, which led to the inclusion of this prestigious award.  It is intended that the award recognizes a young swimmer who demonstrates ability and determination to succeed, two characteristics really appreciated by Mick in his involvement with the sport. The trophy (originally designed by Darrell Chibnall) signifies a drop of water.  Each year a replica of the trophy is prepared for the award recipient by the craftsmanship of Geoff Pfeiffer (Renard Tooling) and engraving provided by Geoff Hocking (Sturt Street Cobbler).  The Club pays Tribute to Mick who’s Memory lives on through this  award and the attendance of Mick’s son Brett, Daughter in-law Suzy and Grand-daughters Emma & Kate                                                                                      

Since Josh was a baby, the pool has been a great place to play, particularly with his grand father. He has been swimming competitively since he was 9 or 10 with Ballarat Gold Swimming Club. Backstroke has proven to be the favourite right from the start and has seen many personal bests in just about every competitive swim. Butterfly has also become a favoured stroke. Over the past 12 months, while representing Ballarat Gold Josh has brought home many medals and continued to PB for his events. Late last year Josh’s hard work really paid off when he competed at the Victorian State Age championships in December and qualified for the 100 and 200 backstroke for National Age Championships, being held in Sydney in 2 weeks time. At that same swim meet he broke the 100m backstroke country record twice in the one day! His efforts at Vic State Age resulted in 2 silver medals, and multiple PB’s.  In January 2014 at the State Country championships, Josh brought home  3 gold medals for 100 Back, 100 Fly, and 100 Free and 1 bronze for 100 Breast. Josh was named best swimmer in country Victoria for his age group.