We are so grateful for the women who contribute to diving in NSW across a variety of roles both in and out of the pool. We will be recognising and showcasing the profiles of these female role models over the coming months with the goal of inspiring and encouraging our next generation of female leaders and participants

Michelle Olsson grew up in Berowra on the northern outskirts of Sydney. At the age of 9 she witnessed Nadia Commenici score a Perfect 10 in the Montreal Olympics and begged her parents to let her start gymnastics. By the age of 13 Michelle was in the State level 8 team. Michelle was awarded a scholarship at the AIS at the age of 14 where she went on to win numerous State and National titles.

Michelle represented the country numerous times including the World Championships which were held in Budapest Hungary in 1983. Unfortunately an injury put Michelle out of the 1984 Olympics which prompted her to try Diving. Michelle competed in the Festival of Sport in Diving in 1986 where she won the 3 metre Open title.

Michelle went on to study Marketing, however returned to her love of coaching in her early 20’s at her original club Epping YMCA. During Michelle’s thirty plus years of coaching she has been a development coach for a number of Olympians (gymnastics): Prashanth Sellatherai, Blake Guadry and our own Rebecca Gilmore.

In 2012, Michelle was employed by PLC Sydney as their Gymnastics and Diving Coordinator, which bought her back into the Diving world. Ever since Michelle joined the PLC Sydney sports team, enrolments have flourished in both sports, and as a result PLC Sydney saw an opportunity to dedicate Michelle's exceptional coaching skills solely to Diving. As Head of Diving, Michelle and PLC Sydney have not looked back, with PLC Sydney taking out the NSW Club of the Year for the past two years, with a number of her divers taking out the National Divers of the Year Award. Michelle herself was recently appointed as a Manager for the NSW CHS/PSSA Diving Team, who competed at the School Sports Australia Diving Championships in Brisbane in November.


Michelle has been the NSW Coaching Coordinator for the past six years and has just recently become a member of the National Coaching committee.

Above all Michelle is passionate about inspiring young Divers and Coaches to be their best.

Chris Lang PDHPE Teacher

Life Member NSW Diving and IGSA Sport Association

Level 2 Diving Coach and Level 6 Judge

Chris Lang has been involved in diving since she was 8 years old.

Madeleine and Jack Barnett were her coaches throughout her diving career from 8yr to 24yr and provided the opportunity to grow in love with all aspects of the sport. During these 20+ years as a diver, Chris achieved success at State, Interstate, and international levels. Chris was honoured to represent Australia on two international teams as both a Junior in Woodlands Texas and an Open diver at the SGIO Games Brisbane 1981, prior to the Commonwealth Games.

The experiences gained from being a diver and her high school PE teacher were the stimulus to become a PDHPE teacher, gaining her BED Physical Education in 1985 and later her Master of Education Health Studies in 1994.

The opportunity to continue her passion for both PDHPE and Diving began with her appointment to Pymble Ladies College in 1986.

From this moment teaching PDHPE and coaching diving became a major focus. “I have been able to share my passion for diving with children of all ages and abilities and instil in them courage, resilience and skills that are so vitally important in life”

The diving program continued to grow within the school and quickly became a springboard for children to participate in NSW competitions.

Diving Connections was founded in 2006 as a club that provided opportunities largely for School Based divers. Since that time the foundation provided through Diving Connections has been a springboard for several NSWIS Divers including Brittney Obrien and Sam Fricker, as well as catering for both the recreational and Competitive diver. The aim of Diving Connections is to encourage participation in diving through quality experiences for the diver and the whole family.

In addition to her role as both a Secondary and Primary PDHPE teacher Chris has been able to coach, convene and mentor students to become coaches/volunteers.

An integral aprt of her role has been convening IPSHA, IGSA, CIS Primary and Secondary events and Manager in Charge of School Sport Australia and Pacific School Games teams. Through these roles diving has grown to become a significant and highly valued competition within all these sectors. It has provided Chris the opportunity to share her passion with hundreds of young divers, providing educational and competitive opportunities that prepare them for life.

Chris has also introduced a DIVER levels system within her school which aims to build a sustainable and rewarding levels system that allows skill development, clear

goal setting, forward progression, and acknowledgment of individual success.

It also provides mentoring and development of Junior Coaches and Judges to ensure the ongoing and sustainable development of diving.

Teaching and Diving has been an integral part of life which Chris has been able to share with family from her childhood, to having her own family. Both her son Matt and husband Marty have also been highly involved in diving. The sport of Diving has provided the opportunity for Chris to impart her passion with hundreds of young divers, providing educational and competitive experiences that provide an invaluable springboard to life.

Sue began her involvement with Diving NSW in 1970.

As a young 12-year-old Sue joined her school gym club which led to going to Granville RSL Youth Club for gymnastics. She was then invited to join the trampoline club and consequently the diving club.

Sue won age medals and was state open champion on 1m and /or 3m for many years from 1972-1985 when she retired to have a family. In 1984 Sue exceeded her expectations by representing Australia in a local international competition.

The high school PE teacher quickly became Sue’s role model and she decided very early on that this is what was to be her career.

Sue started sharing her skills with peers at both school and the youth club. On leaving school and studying to become a PE teacher she was appointed NSW Trampoline coach for nationals in 1975. Her coaching career was launched. A natural progression from teaching and coaching trampolining while still diving led to diving coaching and teaching physical culture, a sport empowering girls and women. After 12 years of trampolining coaching, 22 years of teaching physical culture Sue decided to spend more time with family and concentrate on diving.

In 1985 after retiring from competing Sue established Parramatta Diving Club. This club has been the starting point for many athletes who have continued to great heights as well as catering for children who just wanted to have fun diving. Olympians Melissa Wu and Esther Qin, on her arrival in Australia, both began diving with Parramatta Club. Besides coaching many, many state and national age champions with her team Sue feels a legacy of her involvement is the role model she has been for members of the club who have gone on to gaining coaching qualifications to pass on the value of the sport.

A major part of Sue’s diving contribution since 1978 is her role as CHS, PSSA and School Sport Australia diving convener. She has also been involved with the Catholic schools and independent schools competitions. In these positions she enlists the help of volunteers to conduct competitions for students at both state and national level as well as international opportunities through Pacific School Games events.

In 2005 Sue changed her teaching method and studied a Masters of Special Education (sensory hearing) so now works full time teaching students who have an hearing loss and significant other disabilities. She is passionate about finding ways for them to communicate.

On a personal note Sue shares her life with a husband, 2 daughters and son in laws, 4 grandchildren who support her love of diving. In her spare time she loves sewing for the children!


Helen Bednar is a Director on the Board of Diving NSW and Parramatta Diving Club, a volunteer table official, and most importantly a diving mum. Helen’s son started diving in 2009 and as most of us would be aware most sports need the help of volunteers to continue and grow and so she wanted to do her part and in 2010 Helen started lending a hand on the tables at competitions and joining the Parramatta Diving Club meetings.

Helen’s extensive career experience in leading both operational and sales teams; advising and working with State and Federal Government agencies, and private enterprise to devise and implement social procurement policy initiatives; contract management; procurement; operational management, business development, project management, advocacy, customer relationship management and product development across multi-national and national organisations at all levels within various sectors including: Public Sector (State and Federal), Banking and Finance, Facilities Management, Construction, Insurance, Telecommunications, Manufacturing, Utilities and Fast Moving Consumer Goods, brings this diverse background and knowledge to the Diving NSW Board which Helen first joined as a Director in 2015 and continues to serve to this day.

The role that has had the greatest impact on Helen’s career was running the BuyAbility service. The service facilitated and promoted the employment of people with disability. Helen negotiated, secured, and managed contracts of work with public and private enterprise with Australian Disability Enterprises as the supply chain. These are not for profit commercial businesses supporting and enabling people with sever disability to work across a myriad of different industries.

New to the industry Helen was blessed to be able to learn from and strategize with some of the most fabulously dedicated people in the industry. The collaboration saw the creation of valued employment opportunities in turn providing truly life changing results both for the people engaged and for herself. Here Helen came to understand that her efforts to create small changes in organisations could result in huge impact. In her 4 years with BuyAbility Helen built and lead a team to:

  • Deliver jobs growth with 1144 more people with disability engaged in work (an increase of 196%)
  • Secure just over $40M in contract revenue with 64 Disability Enterprises creating long-term sustainable employment in metro and regional / remote locations
  • Move the service from NSW to National footprint – including over 50% of contracts secured regionally

This culminated in a 2018 NSW Premiers Award for the partnership between BuyAbility and the NSW Department of Industry for creating jobs for people with disability through social procurement and being shortlisted for a 2019 Telstra Business Award in the Social Change Maker Category.

Helen is currently with the NSW Department of Communities and Justice as the Contract and Commercial Manager for the Process and Technology Harmonisation (PaTH) Program.

Helen is a passionate social strategist wanting to build and grow social impact to benefit the NSW community at large and hence volunteering aligns to this passion. As a result Helen encourages as many people as possible to lend a hand where they can.

Rhiannan Iffland (born 9th September 1991) began diving and trampolining at the age of 9. She is an Australian and one of the world’s best High Diving and Cliff Diving Champions.

Rhiannan was born in Newcastle, NSW and grew up in Nords Wharf. She trained at Hunter United Diving Academy and then joined the NSW Institute of Sport training with future Olympic medallists Melissa Wu and Matthew Mitcham.

She is a 5 x time Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series Champion. She is also the 2 x FINA World High Diving Champion (2017 & 2019). Her Cliff diving career started in 2016 where she won her first-ever competition as a wildcard entry into the Red Bull Cliff Diving Series. She was the youngest female diver ever to win an event. Rhiannan also became the first woman to score five perfect 10’s in High Diving.

In 2020, Rhiannan was the first person to ever dive out of a moving hot air balloon. She also made a Rainbow Dive Documentary which was filmed in the Northern Territory.

As an active role model in the community, in 2021 Rhiannan was Diving NSW Ambassador for the Country Championships held in Wauchope. Rhiannan inspired and mentored many young divers from Country NSW.

Just recently Rhiannan was awarded the 2022 Lake Mac Sports Star Award where she was recognised for her sporting achievements.

Outside of diving Rhiannan loves the ocean and surfs in her spare time.

Listen and watch Rhiannan tald about her career at the following youtube link:


Lucy Kennedy is an APA Titled Sports and Exercise Physiotherapist working with the diving athletes at the NSW Institute of Sport. Lucy is new to the diving community commencing her role in January. She is enjoying being pool side trying to the learn the diving lingo whilst admiring the diver’s skills off the springboard and platform.

Growing up in country Victoria, Lucy always had a passion for sport, where the local combined AFL and netball club, was the heart and soul of the community. After completing her physio degree at Charles Sturt University in Albury in 2012, Lucy relocated to Perth where she worked in private practice and semi-professional Australian Rules Football. Pursuing her career aspiration to work in elite sport, Lucy joined Melbourne City Football Club in 2016 as the Head Physiotherapist of the Women’s team, male youth academy, and assistant physio to the Men’s team. Lucy was fortunate to be involved in the Women’s team success as they won the W-League championship for three consecutive seasons. She was awarded the A-League + W-League Administrator of the Year in 2018. Lucy undertook a secondment with Manchester City Football Club in 2018 as the Women’s Head Physiotherapist before returning to Melbourne for the 2018/19 football season.

Lucy has since moved north to Sydney for the warmer weather and beach lifestyle, where she contracted as a physio with NSW Police before transitioning to work with the Australian Defence Force. Missing being embedded within a high performing sporting environment, Lucy joined the NSWIS diving family earlier this year. Lucy continues to be involved in professional football, currently away in Thailand with Melbourne City FC Men’s team, as they compete in the Asian Champion’s League group stage. Lucy is excited to attend her first International diving event with Diving Australia at the upcoming 2022 FINA World Aquatic Championships in Budapest. She is thrilled to be assisting the diving athletes in the lead up to this competition and the 2022 Commonwealth Games.

Lucy has a passion for developing the athlete’s capacity and performance whilst providing best physiotherapy practice. She has continued her professional development completing a Graduate Certificate and Masters in Sports Physiotherapy through Latrobe University.

Outside of work, Lucy loves to keep active by running the coastal route and going to the gym. She enjoys being an Aunty, cooking, catching up with friends and going to the beach.



Melissa Wu started her diving career at 10 years of age. She relocated to Brisbane with her family a few years later where she was accepted into the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) program. She begun training under coach Xiangning Chen and was able to learn a senior list of dives from the 10 metre platform at the age of 13 after just one year in the program.

Melissa defeated the reigning Olympic gold and bronze medallists to claim gold in her first ever Australian Open Championships and qualified for her first Commonwealth Games at the age of 13. She teamed up with Alexandra Croak to win a silver medal at the 2006 Commonwealth Games, despite the challenge of competing against much more experienced teams.

In 2008 Melissa partnered with Briony Cole to claim a silver medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, making her the youngest Australian diver in history to not only compete at an Olympic Games, but also the youngest Australian diver to win a medal. By the age of 16 Melissa had medalled at every major international open competition as well as winning a gold medal at Junior World Championships.

After the Olympics Melissa began training in the senior squad under coach Hui Tong. During that time, at the age of 17, she struggled with depression and anxiety and felt she needed a change to a more supportive program. She decided to relocate from Brisbane to Sydney to train in the NSW Institute of Sport (NSWIS) program under coach Chava Sobrino. Upon moving to Sydney she resumed her synchro partnership with Alexandra Croak and in the following years medalled at the 2010 World Cup, 2010 Delhi Commonwealth Games, 2011 World Championships and multiple World Series events before qualifying for her 2nd Olympic Games in London 2012 as well as her 3rd Commonwealth Games in Glasgow 2014.

In 2014 Melissa’s younger sister Kirsten passed away and she took time away from diving to be with her family. She decided to return to the sport a few months later, which was a huge challenge both physically and mentally. Despite having to cope with the loss of her sister in 2014, Melissa qualified for the 2015 World Championships in 3 events, was named the Australian Diving Team captain and came away with a bronze in the mixed synchro event with Domonic Bedggood.

In 2016 Melissa qualified for the Rio Olympic Games, making her a 3-time Olympian. She followed this with her 4th Commonwealth Games in 2018 at the Gold Coast, where she won gold in the 10 metre individual event.

Melissa competed at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games last year where she claimed a bronze in the 10 metre individual platform. She is continuing to train hard with her sights set on Commonwealth Games in Birmingham this year.

Outside of the pool Melissa co-owns HrdKAW Strength and Weightlifting Club with her brother Josh Wu. HrdKAW is named after their sister Kirsten and is a strength and skill based gym specialising in Olympic weightlifting, gymnastics strength and skill training, and CrossFit gymnastics. Melissa coaches the gymnastics program, presents the education component of the Youth Scholarship Program and mentors youth athletes.

For the past 4 years Melissa has also been a coach for the NSWIS Diving Target Squad, aiming to bring through the next generation of Olympic divers. She also co-owns Australian Diving Academy with fellow Olympian Kevin Chavez, which offers specialist diving coaching and access to dryland facilities for club divers of all ages and levels to assist them in reaching their potential.

Melissa loves to learn and train new skills that challenge her physically and mentally and she has the same enthusiasm when it comes to coaching and helping others. She combines this with an emphasis on building strength and teaching good movement patterns and technique. Some of the most important things Melissa teaches are drawn from her many years of experience as a world-class athlete. She not only focuses on the physical aspects of training but also the importance of mindset, injury prevention, work ethic and recovery. In her capacity as both an athlete and a coach she leads by example, making a difference in people’s lives with her positive attitude, determination and courage. She is an inspirational role model and mentor.

Melissa also owns her own activewear label called Havok Athletic, which is created for athletes using premium quality fabrics that are super soft and comfortable.



Lynda Woodward, is the secretary for Hunter Diving Academy, a physiotherapist working in our hospital system, and most beloved title – mum. She is only new to the sport of diving, starting when she brought her 9-year-old daughter, Ashley, to try diving back in 2019. Since then, her son, Daniel, has also commenced diving, with both children competing at the Country championships run by Diving NSW and continuing their training at Hunter Diving Academy. 

As a child and through to her early adult years, she participated in many sports, focusing mainly on swimming and love of dance. she also played the piano and saxophone, and more recently has started learning the drums and guitar, with the hopes of one day being able to play the violin. Lynda has always been intrigued by the sport of diving, taking the opportunity to have a jump off the springboards when she was little in between swimming events at Friday night club swimming at Lambton pool. "I can remember watching the diving at the Olympics when I was young and being in awe of the grace and strength of the athletes drawing parallels to dancing." As physiotherapist for over 14 years, she tends to see the action of diving slightly different, seeing the biomechanics, and the strength and flexibility needed to dive. Even though at this time she is not participating in sport, the knowledge, discipline, and devotion that she have learnt through her music and sporting endeavours has taught Lynda how to set goals and achieve my goals. 

Like most mums, she have many hats – health professional, continuing education, volunteer, family business owner, hobbies, daughter, wife, and mum – trying to find the time to not just do all these things, but to do all these things thoughtfully, successfully and to the standard that she is content with, can be challenging at times. Lynda has learnt that support from family is the key to her success. As well as believing in her convictions, and to simply give things a go. It also helps that she loves making lists and setting goals – and by setting smaller goals to accomplish the bigger ones. 

Lynda is currently in the second year of being the secretary at Hunter Diving Academy. Her continued goals are to endorse the sport through advertising and communication with the community to captivate the youth to join this amazing sport. We are always looking at ways to update our profile and continue to be more active on social media and communicating with our members – which may mean that we have to give in and join Instagram. We have just finished another successful summer camp which we run to inspire new people to join the sport, as well as an intensive week of diving for our current members. Lynda looks forward to watching her children continue in this fascinating sport of diving and to help them to grow the skills she has learnt growing up participating in sport.




Susan Judd is the President of Diving North Coast Club. Susan has been involved in the Diving North Coast Club since 2018, when her son Riley decided he would try diving as a sport at the age of 11 years. Susan has been an active member of the Club and a member of the Management Committee since the 2019/2020 Season.

During her time on the DNC Management Committee Susan has implemented a number of successful innovations. Susan designed the above new branding for the Club prior to the commencement of the 2019 season.

With the NSW Country Championships scheduled in Wauchope during January 2021, Susan then developed and initiated a Club Sponsorship program to assist the Diving North Coast Club to prepare and host the Championships. The sponsorship program offered a variety of levels of club sponsorship and marketing to local organisations which included one Platinum Sponsor, one Gold Sponsor, and multiple Bronze sponsorships.

On the Club successfully securing these sponsorships from community organisations and local small businesses through the assistance of multiple committee members, Susan then sourced club uniforms – including logoed polo shirts, swimming costumes and towels so our athletes would look cohesive and take pride in representing their Club in the Country Championships.

Susan has implemented digital forms for online registration and fee payment for the Club enabling online payment and releasing the pressure on volunteer committee members to chase unpaid fees. In addition Susan commenced a Parent only Diving North Coast Facebook Page (private) for easy communication with parents and safe sharing of photos and videos from poolside, and a public Diving North Coast Facebook page for marketing of our club in the community.

Outside of her voluntary role as President of Diving North Coast club, Susan is the Managing Director of HR Culture and Dare to Care. She has more than 25 years experience in leading and managing people in a variety of organisations spanning financial services, manufacturing and distribution, and retail and business to business sales. For the past 15 years Susan has operated HR Culture, working with organisations large and small to build their leadership, teamwork, empowerment, and communication skills.

Susan’s real passion is working with organisations to build happy and engaged workplaces where people are motivated and inspired to do and be their best. Susan does this through delivering tailored learning and development programs incorporating emotionally intelligent workplace (and life) behaviours. By working with individuals and groups to build their understanding of emotional intelligence, Susan assists organisations to build their productivity, team cohesion, and performance, building workplace happiness. Happy workplaces are proven to be 34% more productive.

Susan contributes back to the community as a Voluntary Board Member at a not-for-profit organisation which is represented across the Port Macquarie/Kempsey & Port Stephens areas.

The Dare to Care brand was launched in June 2019. Dare To Care is focused on building future work skills in our Next Generation (Gen Z & Gen Alpha), working with students, schools, employers and parents to prepare the next generation for the future of work, through building critical emotional intelligence skills including resilience, self awareness, awareness of others, understanding different personality styles and the expectations of different generations. Dare to Care works with all of these cohorts to enhance these skills. Susan is the host of Dare to Care’s educational podcast of the same name to gain a broader reach for these critical future workplace skills.