YMCA Auckland Swim School guru Karla McCaughan says, in her 30-year career she’s never felt so humbled and proud.

Last weekend’s AUSTSWIM Aotearoa Aquatic Conference and Aqua Summit in Rotorua proved a triple treat for the organisation, a New Zealand owned and operated not-for-profit. By the end of the afternoon, three nominations had turned into as many awards. “Taking home industry awards brings a sense of credibility and professionalism to what we do,” she says.

Karla, who is a stalwart of the aquatics industry, took home the award for Most Outstanding Contribution to AustSwim. “It was a real honour to receive an award from my peers, many of whom I’ve worked with for years,” she says.

Helen Vann has dedicated 24 years to the aquatics industry, with seven of those spent volunteering at the Special Olympics. As the Swim School Manager at Lagoon Pool, Helen specialises in making aquatics accessible and inclusive for people facing physical, cognitive and social challenges.

“Every person deserves the chance to actively participate regardless of the challenges they face. We, as a society, should work together to give equal opportunities to everyone.” Helen took home the award and impressive koru trophy for Teacher of Aquatics Access and Inclusion. “I'm proud to work for a facility that allows me to run a fully inclusive swim school, and I'm doubly proud of my swimmers for working towards their goals.”

Two hundred representatives from across the aquatics industry turned out to recognise nominees and award recipients.

The icing on the cake came when YMCA Auckland won the Recognised Swim Centre of the Year award for the aquatics programmes it runs across four locations. “This award celebrates and acknowledges that as a group we’re committed to ensuring all staff hold the AUSTSWIM Teacher of Swimming and Water Safety qualification, and that we’re delivering some of the best aquatic programmes in the country,” adds Karla.

The not-for-profit’s swimming programmes at Mount Roskill, Glenn Innes, Panmure and Onehunga centres cater for more than 3,500 swimmers each week. “Add to that the local schools we cater for, and our programmes are certainly in demand,” says Karla.

The team can now add this triple haul to the trophy cabinet. Three trophies that will sit nicely alongside the Outstanding Swim School accolade received from New Zealand Swim Coaches and Teachers Association earlier in the year.