Sports Hall of Fame Inductee
Category: Sports Hall of Fame
Sport: Paralympian Swimmer and Basketballer
Kate Church grew up in the town of Mooroopna and at the age of ten she developed a health condition which caused her to be permanently in a wheelchair. As a part of her treatment she spent many hours at the local indoor swimming pool using swimming as her main exercise. She was trained by Lois White. At 13 years of age Lois encouraged Kate to join the local swimming club where she came under the tutelage of well-known Mooroopna coach Stuart Freeman. She began winning events across the State and was soon selected in the development squad for the Australian Paralympic team.
In 1993 she competed in the National Junior Wheelchair Games where she set a National record for her age in the 100 Metres Freestyle.
In the 1994 Wheelchair Games she not only won a Gold and Bronze medal in swimming but also competed in wheelchair basketball to win a Bronze medal. By 1995 Kate had improved so much that she won 5 Gold, 3 Silver and 1 Bronze medal at the Games as well as 6 Gold Medals at the Pan Pacific School Games.
That form won her selection to travel to England with the Paralympic development squad where she won a 200 metre silver medal and a 100 metre Bronze medal.
The next year 1996 she competed in the British National Championships in Sheffield, winning 2 Bronze medals. Back home she won 6 Silver Medals in the National Games and 4 Gold Medals in the Victorian titles. In 1997 Kate spent a year in Melbourne at the Victorian Institute of Sport before returning to the Goulburn Valley to concentrate on making the squad for the World Championships in 1998. This was at the time when Aquamoves opened in Shepparton, which gave her the opportunity to train year round and made funding support available to her. She was able to train at the Shepparton Swimming Club with the support of top coach Willy O’Callaghan. It was Willy who saw the potential of her trying other swimming strokes such as Butterfly and Breast Stroke. This would lead her to hold a National Record in Butterfly (which she still holds) and break a World Record in Breast Stroke.
1998 saw Kate compete in Freestyle and Backstroke in the World Paralympic Championships and 5 events in the British Championships. At this time Kate had her mind set in representing Australia in the World Wheelchair Games and the 2000 Sydney Paralympics.
As well as competing in 6 events in the British Championships, she won 2 Silver Medals and 3 Bronze at the German Championships. It was then on to the World Wheelchair Games where she was magnificent in winning one Gold Medal, 2 Silver and 3 Bronze Medals. Back Home she set 2 National Records and won the Gold Medal in the National Championships along with 6 Gold 2 Silver and 1 Bronze Medal at State level short and long course titles.
In the year 2000, Kate completed her Olympic preparation winning Gold and Bronze at the National Championships. She was selected to take her place in the Australian team in the Sydney Paralympics where she competed in the 400 metres Freestyle, 100 Metres Breast Stroke and 100 Metres Butterfly events. It was a wonderful way for the swimmer from the Goulburn Valley to complete her competitive career.
Kate Church has been an inspiration to all who have witnessed her overcoming hardship and dedicating herself to be successful. Her success has been well earned and she has cemented herself as one of the Goulburn Valley’s most successful sports people.