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A TAFE NSW graduate with a passion for water safety has intensified her push to bring beach safety awareness to the inland community of Parkes.
Nicole Thornhill, a former competitive swimmer, said despite Parkes being nearly 400km inland, it was critical locals were able to learn of the dangers that lurked on coastal waterways.
“Most people in the country don’t know what a rip looks like and are therefore more susceptible to swimming in them,” Ms Thornhill said. “That’s why I’m working with organisations like Royal Lifesaving and Austswim to ensure locals are able to learn about those dangers.”
With her early teenage years consumed by competitive swimming, Ms Thornhill took a summer job as a learn-to-swim teacher at 17, a decision which was to change the course of her life.
Eleven years on, and with the help of TAFE NSW West Wyalong, Ms Thornhill has now risen to be the Aquatics Coordinator at the Parkes Aquatic Centre, managing 30 staff and helping run every facet of the business.
She credits the Certificate III in Aquatics and Community Recreation at TAFE NSW West Wyalong with helping her gain the knowledge and qualifications to take the step up to a more senior role.
“It really gave me the extra knowledge base to help me get to where I am now,” Ms Thornhill said. “I learned so much about the money side, about the reception, kiosk, rostering, training … everything.”
As her confidence has grown, so too has her advocacy for the importance of learning to swim.
“It’s an amazing feeling seeing children develop from being terrified of the water to having so much confidence in it,” Ms Thornhill said.
Ms Thornhill has also recently completed a Diploma of Leadership and Management with TAFE NSW to give her the skills and confidence to be a better manager.
TAFE NSW Sport and Recreation Teacher Melissa Ryan said Ms Thornhill was a shining example of how a TAFE NSW qualification could turbocharge your career.
“Nicole was a fantastic student and a prime example of the opportunities this course can provide,” Ms Ryan said. “This is a real growth industry and also an area where there is a skills shortage, so jobs are plentiful.”
Ms Ryan said the course was recommended as “best practice” by the NSW Department of Local Government for anyone working in the industry.
To find out more about studying aquatics at TAFE NSW, phone 13 16 01 or visit www.tafensw.edu.au.
Media contact: Daniel Johns, TAFE NSW Media and Communications – Business Partner, 6938 1441, mobile 0477 722 428.