About Swim Sisters

Swim Sisters is designed to provide women with an inclusive environment to swim in various settings. Swim Sisters provides a pathway for women to swim regardless of their levels, including learn to swim and ocean swim pathways.

It all started in 2017 when Yusra Metwally put ‘ocean swimming’ on her personal bucket list.

Adelaide and Perth, Swim Sisters help to give many women from diverse ethnic and religious backgrounds the chance to enjoy the physical and mental benefits of being at peace and at one with the water. 

When Yusra created Burkini Babes, as the squad was originally known, she was an enthusiastic but non-regular swimmer who needed to improve her technique. She realised the only way to become a stronger swimmer was through practice.

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We Are Growing....

“After reflecting on why I didn’t swim, I realised a lot of it came down to feeling really self-conscious about being at the beach or pool and being covered in a modesty suit,” says Yusra, who wears a hijab as a reflection of her commitment to the Muslim faith. “That was the starting point. I wanted to see if there were other women who were keen to participate with me.”

Swim Sisters is now a 120-strong squad of women with a range of life experiences who enjoy an inclusive, non-competitive, caring environment. Many swim with the group regularly, either working on their stroke in a pool or taking part in blue-ocean events; others join in when they can. What helps to unite them is a shared sense of community.

Story Behind Us

Swim Sisters now hosts a range of learn to swim programs including a womens only and mums and bubs program in Western Sydney. Additionally, Swim Sisters is involved in Surf Life Saving programs, Ocean Swims and Charity Events throughout the community.

Mission

MISSION

To provide members of Swim Sisters Australia with safe environments for swimming and quality swim programs to develop physical and personal potential for women of all ages and levels, specifically targeting the CALD community.

Vision

This is accomplished through the following principles:

To provide safe environments where female swimmers of all ages can reach their desired potential

To empower women through education about water safety and reduce the risk of fatal and non-fatal injuries

To educate our members on the value, rewards and potential that aquatic activities provide

To develop culturally and religiously appropriate swim programs

To encourage and enable people from within CALD communities to become swim and water safety advocates

Vision

Meet Our Team

Swimming Carnival
(Founder)

Yusra Metwally

Yusra Metwally founded Swim Sisters Australia in 2016. Yusra could barely complete a lap of a pool, making hers the least likely person to have started a swimming group. Yusra’s professional background as a lawyer and passion in advocacy underpinned the foundations of the group. In her professional roles, Yusra is a passionate community advocate in her roles as a solicitor, policy advisor, freelance writer. With experience in government, political and non-government settings, Yusra is passionate about creatively designing programs and policies that achieve social impact while bridging the gap between policy and practice.

Yusra’s inspiration was heightened in 2016 when a team in Rio 2016 Olympics, featured Yusra Mardini, a truly inspiring Syrian refugee swimmer. Yusra felt an instant dose of inspiration in appreciating the truly life saving force of swimming while Mardini escaped Syria. Yusra’s passion led her to North Sydney Olympic Pool near and became captivated by the idea of embracing ocean swimming as a bucket list item.  She re-enrolled in women’s swim lessons finding a huge demand for womens swimming lessons. The France burkini ban then forged together the start of Swim Sisters. 

Yusra’s swimming story has been featured in the Women’s Pool book, Memory Pool book, as well as ABC The Pool documentary. Since forming partnerships with Surf Life Saving Clubs, Yusra has aspirations of becoming a surf life saver

 

GINA CHOWDHURY
(President )

Gina Chowdhury

Vicki learned to swim as a child, gained a love of the water and was lucky to have a backyard pool growing up. Following major abdominal surgery in 2019, she joined Swim Sisters and actively improved her forgotten techniques as part of her recovery to learn long distance swimming (rather than the sprint technique she learned when young). Vicki is an accredited editor, technical writer, and trainer and assessor. She is also a Justice of the Peace and a member of the Communication and Style Standing Committee at the Institute of Professional Editors.

(Vice President)

Dr Juliana Jamaluddin

Juliana never learnt to swim as a child growing up in Malaysia, because it was not considered an essential skill. She discovered Swim Sisters through their beginner swim programs and joined the committee in early 2020 after helping out with administrative duties. She still on the road to improving her swim skills and considers herself an advocate on the committee for new and beginner swimmers still finding their way.

She works as a medical practitioner who was previously an Emergency Department doctor and Physician Trainee and is now currently a GP trainee with aims of moving into research and community palliative care in the future. 

She is also a board member of Addison Road Community Centre, the largest community centre in Australia; is on the steering committee for Addi Moves, an UNSW and Mindgardens Project that offers a free, mental-health informed exercise facility and also works with the local community on anti-racism projects including the #RacismNOTWelcome signs. 

In her spare time she enjoys travelling, reading, keeping up with pop-culture and has taken up cross stitching as a recent hobby.

 

TAMARA KAHIL
(Secretary)

TAMARA KAHIL

Tamara joined the Swim Sisters team in 2017 and went on to become Swim Sisters’ Secretary in
2021. She is a mum of two and community pharmacist.

Her love for swimming stems from summer days in the backyard pool with her dad and 3 sisters.
Many years later she harnessed this passion and coordinated a mums and bubs program. She is
dedicated to creating safe spaces for women and children to learn to swim as she believes this is
where water safety and awareness begins.

She also has interests in empowering refugee populations with swim skills and awareness to
ultimately contribute to a decline in drowning rates.

Tamara aims to become a swim instructor for her community and achieve Bronze Medallion.

Western Sydney University Gradlife Magazine (P22) - 2017
(Treasurer)

Vicki Snowdon

Vicki learned to swim as a child, gained a love of the water and was lucky to have a backyard pool growing up. Following major abdominal surgery in 2019, she joined Swim Sisters and actively improved her forgotten techniques as part of her recovery to learn long distance swimming (rather than the sprint technique she learned when young). Vicki is an accredited editor, technical writer, and trainer and assessor. She is also a Justice of the Peace and a member of the Communication and Style Standing Committee at the Institute of Professional Editors.

(Public Officer )

Asma Fahmi

Asma Fahmi currently works with Australia for UNHCR (United Nations refugee body) in both the philanthropy and digital teams. She is the president of community-based organisation Markaz, a board member of Swim Sisters Australia and a trustee of Mission of Hope. Asma is also an active patrolling member of Garie Surf Club as a Surf Life Saver and is a regular contributor to SBS Voices. She has been featured in various media outlets for her advocacy work including the book ‘Arab, Australian, Other’ and the Amazon Prime documentary ‘Unheard’.

 

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