Petria Thomas OAM
Chancellor's Award for Contribution to Sport Joint Winner

Bachelor Sports Administration, 2004

Petria Thomas OAM is a world-class Australian swimmer, Olympic gold medallist and winner of 15 national titles. She is a former world record holder and her tally of Olympic medals was at the time the overall best for an Australian woman (tied with Dawn Fraser and Susie O'Neill). She achieved these results despite having to overcome multiple serious shoulder injuries and depression. In 1996, she was inducted into the AIS Swimming Hall of Fame. In 2001, 2002 and 2004 she was named the AIS Athlete of the Year, and in 2007 she was inducted in to the Sport Australia Hall of Fame. In 2005 she was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia for her service to sport. Petria, a triple-Olympian and a three-time Olympic gold medallist, has consistently displayed courage, grit, and determination, and for this is widely recognised and respected in the swimming world for her leadership, talent and fortitude. Petria retired from competitive swimming in 2004.

From 2007 to 2013, Petria worked as a Sports Program Advisor at the Australian Institute of Sport, where she was responsible for implementing collaborative projects and developing key relationships with high performance staff across a variety of sports, elite athletes, other Government Departments, and key sport sector partners. In 2013, Petria took on a new position as National Training Centre and Network Support Manager for Swimming Australia, which has now evolved into the Podium Program Manager position. In this role, Petria oversees the coordination of a number of Swimming Australia activities at the Australian Institute of Sport, including the National Training Centre residential program, national team camps and visiting high performance programs. She also manages the day to day operations of Podium Centre and Individual Podium Programs and Australian Swim Team Preparation Fund.

Outside of the world of sport, Petria has publically spoken about her battles with depression throughout her swimming career. Petria's bravery in sharing such a deeply personal experience in her autobiography Swimming Against the Tide demonstrates the commitment she has to being a positive role model and to serving the community by raising awareness and reducing the stigma of mental health issues. Furthermore, Petria has supported many organisations dedicated to addressing the growing problems around mental health, depression, and suicide prevention. She also supports many other charitable organisations by lending her time to raise awareness and funds.

Petria has led a wildly successful career as both an elite athlete and a sports administrator. Her courage, commitment and perseverance are renowned both throughout the sporting world, and in the wider community.


Sport and Exercise Science