Cole Classic: Olympian Wendy Robinson swims for the Rainbow Club children

James Collier,12, and brother Ben, 8, with Rainbow Club swimming instructor Wendy Robinson at Sutherland Leisure Centre. Photo: Louise KennerleyOlympian Wendy Robinson is no stranger to international acclaim, but the swimming instructor says that achieving smaller goals is giving her great satisfaction.

Robinson, of Como, coaches children with disabilities to swim as part of her work with NSW charity the Rainbow Club.

One of her students, James Collier, 12, has attended Robinson’s weekly classes at Sutherland Leisure Centre for five years.

“He gets so much pleasure getting out of the wheelchair and just being able to float,” Robinson says. “He gets excited when he realises what he can do.

“To see them enjoying the water is great.”

Before she became an instructor 15 years ago, Robinson competed in triathlons and was an aerobics champion and professional swimmer.

She represented New Zealand in synchronised swimming when it was first introduced to the Olympic Games in 1984.

While her definition of success has changed since then, Robinson still challenges her students to swim to their capacity.

“We have small goals,” she says. “And we use tools that the kids are comfortable with.

“I teach a child with Angelman syndrome who gets immense pleasure from being able to roll from his front to his back in the water. And for him that’s a big deal.”

Other children in the club have overcome their fear of being horizontal in the water to go on to squad training.

“That’s what I enjoy most, working out how to get around each child to get them comfortable in the water,” she says.

On February 7, Robinson will swim the two-kilometre leg of The Sydney Morning Herald’s Cole Classic, the annual Shelly Beach to Manly ocean race.

She is drawing on a deep source of motivation: raising funds for the children she teaches to swim.

Robinson will use her performance at the Cole Classic as an indicator of the training she needs to complete the Malabar Magic, a 2.5-kilometre swim held later in February.

The Malabar ocean swim is dedicated to raising money for Rainbow Club, which provides swimming lessons to 450 children with disabilities across the state.

The Olympian hasn’t started training for either race yet but doesn’t seem too concerned.

“I completed the Sydney Harbour Swim six months after I gave birth to my daughter and came third in my category,” she says.

“I didn’t really train for that.”

Two children from the Sutherland Rainbow Club will join Robinson for the Malabar swim.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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