Chris Hayes’ dedication to developing strong swimmers and fellow coaches is renowned in the local area, as is his devotion to the Deniliquin Swimming Club.
Mr Hayes’ expertise as a technical official and referee has seen him officiate at a national, regional and local level, as well as at international competitions like the World Cup, Commonwealth Youth Games and the Trans-Tasman Championships.
This service to swimming saw the dedicated Deniliquin volunteer named as a recipient of the Order of Australia Medal in the Queen’s Birthday honours list yesterday.
Deniliquin Swimming Club president Melissa Westcott said it was a well deserved honour for Mr Hayes, who she described as an instrumental and influential member of the club.
‘‘It’s an honour to work with Chris and coach alongside him,’’ Mrs Westcott said.
‘‘What he has to offer is second to none, and we wouldn’t have anyone else in Deniliquin with the knowledge he has of swimming.
‘‘Chris is secretary at present, and as a fairly new committee with little experience with committee roles we are learning from him.
‘‘He’s willing to show us the ropes and I can honestly say I don’t think I would have taken on the presidency without his support.’’
As a coach, Mrs Westcott said Mr Hayes is able to mould the swimmers to suit their unique abilities and is held in high esteem by the young swimmers, their parents and others involved in the club.
‘‘Chris is all about letting the kids achieve what they can,’’ she said.
‘‘He’s about whole package swimming, and he can pick out a swimmer’s skills and work on it to get them to their best.
‘‘And he works with the eight to nine year-olds, up to the older swimmers.’’
Mrs Westcott said her daughter Kate had thrived under Mr Hayes’ guidance, and as a result is a stronger swimmer.
‘‘Kate started in the seven year-olds with Chris and then had a few other coaches.
‘‘In the past year she has thrived under Chris again. He can identify where she is going (with her swimming) and Kate respects what he does and says.
‘‘Under his coaching she made it to the state championships in school swimming and has also achieved some personal goals.’’
Mrs Westcott said she has also benefited from Mr Hayes’ experience in the sport, gaining her qualifications as a level one referee under his guidance.
Also gaining qualifications under Mr Hayes’ tutelage over the years has been long-time swimming instructor Cheryl McMillan.
‘‘I did my timekeeping and coaching with Chris, and he coached my children,’’ Mrs McMillan said.
‘‘We had many years at the club together because our children are about the same age.
‘‘Chris is very knowledgeable on swimming, and it has always been a pleasure to work with him.
‘‘He has done a lot for the club in helping people get their qualifications in timekeeping and refereeing’’
It is Mr Hayes’ official swimming roles which earned him his OAM this week, particularly for Swimming Australia and Swimming NSW.
His dedication to these official roles earned him Technical Official of the Year for Swimming NSW for the 2008-09 season.
Mr Hayes’ earliest introduction as a referee and technical official for the organisation was in 1988, with the Summer Country Championships.
For Swimming NSW he has also officiated at the NSW Open Short-course Championships, NSW Open Championships, NSW Summer Age Championships, NSW Speedo Finals Championships, Winter Short-course Championships and a host of other regional events.
He’s been the director of the Griffith Winter Short-course meets and the Deniliquin Regionals since 1991 and has also been a member of the Swimming NSW Technical Swimming Committee since 2014.
For Swimming Australia, Mr Hayes has officiated at Australian Grand Prix meets, Australian Age Championships, Australian Open Championships and the Australian University Games since 1990, and last year added the National Age and Open Championships to the list.
Locally, Mr Hayes has been a club technical official for the Deniliquin Swimming Club since 1987 and club referee since 1991. He was made a life member of the club in 1991.
Mr Hayes is also a life member of the Riverina Swimming Zone, of which he has been an executive member for 25 years, which was bestowed on him in 1997.
He is also an executive member of the Southern Inland Swimming Association.
Mr Hayes’ volunteer work has not been limited to the Swimming Club. He is also well known as a football umpire.
His other community roles have included an active role on the Deniliquin Local Health Advisory Committee.