LESLEY Arrowsmith had a poolside seat to some of Australian swimming’s most memorable moments.
An International Swimming Federation (FINA)-approved judge since 1999, she was an inspector and turns official at the Sydney 2000 and Athens 2004 Olympics and served at multiple Commonwealth Games and national championships.
The Shelley resident relished the thrill of being mere metres from swimming legends such as Ian Thorpe, Grant Hackett, Leisel Jones and Susie O’Neill in her role as an official.
She was poolside during the Australian Championships in March 2004, when Thorpe was memorably disqualified from competing in the 400m freestyle after he fell into the pool before the race.
“He said he heard a noise, but nobody else in the field heard a noise and we didn’t hear a noise,” Ms Arrowsmith said.
“My friend was the referee, he had to go around and tell Thorpe he was out and he couldn’t swim at the Olympics.”
She was also in Canberra in 1992 when a young Kieren Perkins memorably broke the 1500m freestyle world record.
“He got the world record for 800m on the way and then came back and got the world record for 1500m as well and the noise was absolutely deafening, all these people on their feet, shouting and yelling,” she said.
Ms Arrowsmith was awarded a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) this week as part of the Queen’s Birthday Honours.
She has had an impact on swimming at every level, from grassroots through to international competitions.
A life member at Victoria Park Swimming Club, Ms Arrowsmith started her officiating career due to her daughter’s association with the club (then known as Canning Aquatic Club) and said when she officially became a FINA judge, she was one of the few women to do so.
“When I first started, there were very few women with the career path I had, there was one lady previous to me who was a FINA referee, then I came along. I think it’s 50-50 now,” she said.
Ms Arrowsmith said she was proud to follow in the footsteps of her father Doug Arrowsmith, a previous recipient of the Medal of the Order of Australia.