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28 September, 2021

June Cotter: A dive into the deep end

ATHERTON born and bred local June Cotter would never have dreamt that a country “bumpkin” could go from managing a small-town swimming pool to sitting sideline at an Olympic pool.

By Rhys Thomas

June Cotter has spent a lifetime in and around the swimming pool, from the country pool to the Olympic pool

ATHERTON born and bred local June Cotter would never have dreamt that a country “bumpkin” could go from managing a small-town swimming pool to sitting sideline at an Olympic pool. 

This was the exact progression of June’s life and career as a swimming coach, starting off thrust into the deep end managing pools, teaching kids to swim and to travelling to Rio for the 2016 Paralympics.

June’s journey started in 1984 in Cairns where she was asked to teach kids to swim at the C-Me Swim School at Edge Hill.

Surf lifesaving was the only previous experience June had in teaching – achieving her bronze medallion in Sydney and being a member of the Cairns Surf Lifesaving Club.

The pool managers, Marilyn and Clyde Evans, asked June to come along and teach the kids after a chance encounter as Mr Evans was June’s husband’s godson.

“Oh, I can’t teach swimming,” was June’s response, however Mrs Evans knew this wasn’t the case as June had taught her son Bill to swim through surf lifesaving many years before.

After a short time at the C-Me Swim School while rising to assistant swimming coach, the Evan’s put June’s name down to manage the Mossman Caravan Park and Swimming Pool. 

With “you’ll be right” as words of encouragement and a short week sitting in on the Woree and Tobruk swimming pools, June was running her own in 1986, while at Mossman for seven more years. 

“I got thrown into the deep end,” June said.

“I had state and national swimmers, a very good national swimmer who used to win about 30 medals a year.” 

Babinda was the next stop for June after being invited along by Olympic level swim coach Shaun Crow.

“Shaun asked if I would come and work with him at the Australian Swim Camp at Nudgee College,” June said. 

“I said I’m just a country bumpkin coach I couldn’t do that, he said yes you can.

“So, 11 years later they had me going to America every year.” 

June missed her first trip to America because she thought the American coach was joking when he invited her along, she got quite the surprise when he called her asking which flight she was on.

It was only 14 years ago now that June first took over management of the Mareeba Pool and it expanded from there, taking on the Kuranda Pool and the Dimbulah Pool and Caravan Park. 

Since then, June has established herself as a placeholder of the Mareeba Pool, teaching kids to swim making more and more state and national champions. 

Out of all the memories and experiences in her life June counts the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games as one of the best. 

June is a level four trainee for the International Paralympic Committee and she was invited to go over to classify for the Rio Paralympics.

“For a country bumpkin like myself to be nominated to do that, it was overwhelming,” she said.

“To be over there in that atmosphere with those people.” 

The accomplishments didn’t stop there however as just last year June was accepted as the manager and assistant coach for the Australian Team in the Global Games. 

The Magnum Opus of June’s career however remains her fateful achievement of her surf lifesaving bronze medallion in 1981, the medal that started it all.

“Rebuilding” is next on the list for June as she truly returns to her roots, being offered the position of head coach at Atherton Swimming Pool.

She will be working under the current leasee Ben Eales from Marlin Coast Swimming and Fitness. 

June actually taught Ben many years ago and helped him achieve his bronze medallion.

“I’ve done a full circle,” she said. 

“I’m back to my roots.”

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