by Aquatic Recreation Institute on January 29, 2022

The 2021 Aquatic and Recreation Institute Virtual Awards will be held on Friday 11 February 2022 from 12pm - 1:30pm.

Click here to register to attend the ceremony.

Aquatic & Recreation Institute recognises industry excellence, by presenting awards in a range of categories. The 2021 Virtual Awards will include:

  • Lifeguard Award - Sponsored by Royal Life Saving NSW.
  • Duty Manager Award - Sponsored by BlueFit.
  • Customer Service Team Award - Sponsored by Roejen Engineering + Technical Services.
  • Swim School Award - Sponsored by AUSTSWIM.
  • Environmental Sustainability Award - Sponsored by Roejen Engineering + Technical Services.
  • Access Inclusion Award - Sponsored by Para Mobility.
  • Children's Program Award - Sponsored by Little Toggs.
  • Emerging Leader Award - Sponsored by ProMinent.
  • Award of Excellence - Sponsored by Orimatech.
  • Adam Lloyd Memorial Spirit Award - Sponsored by ARI.
  • Supplier of the Year Award - Sponsored by Para Mobility.
  • AH Pierce Memorial Facility of the Year Award - Sponsored by International Quadratics + Pierce Pool Supplies.



Matt Haanappel OAM is a Paralympic Gold Medallist and World Record Holder having competed at London 2012, Rio 2016, and the Commonwealth Games in 2018. He has since worked as a Leisure Industry professional creating inclusive opportunities to engage all in physical activity. He now works in the media sector.

However, these great professional successes in sport and the workplace were not without many barriers. Matthew and his family were faced with significant barriers towards participating in learn-to-swim in the 1990's and 2000's, in an industry that was broadly, at the time, not inclusive or equitable.

Kathy, Matt's mother, would go from leisure centre to leisure centre to find both a swim school and a teacher that would seek to support and teach her son. Kathy would enrol her son in upwards of 10 learn-to-swim programs, some 90 minutes away from home. She would experience various issues across these programs that continue to impact many people with a disability's participation today.

Kathy recalls several instances where Matt would be left on the side of the pool. The teacher was unable to engage her son in the lesson, not because of behavioural reasons, but because many teachers were unaware of how to think outside the box and adapt around Matt's disability, to get the most out of his body to swim.

Matt was regularly put in the 'too hard basket' due to a lack of specific disability training and awareness. This is an issue that AUSTSWIM’s Removing Barriers seeks to address.

Matt would be eight years old before being partnered with a swimming teacher that had experience teaching to individuals recovering from strokes, using a method called 'The Halliwick Concept' as the basis of this teaching, from there, the rest is history.

Come along to the ARI Virtual Awards to hear from our MC Matt Haanappel as he presents the industry awards for excellence.  Click here to register for the awards ceremony.

The 2021 ARI Virtual Awards MC is Sponsored by AUSTSWIM: