SWAS Awards – Winners Announced

Feb 13, 2023 | Awards, News

Superfast swimmer Alex Saffy dived into the history books on Friday night when he became the first para-athlete to claim one of the South West’s most coveted sporting accolades.

The ‘Bunbury Bullet’ edged out a diverse field of high-calibre athletes to be named the South West Academy of Sport’s Sports Star of the Year at a sold-out red-carpet event held at the Bunbury Regional Entertainment Centre.

Saffy was also announced the winner of the Individual Male Sports Star of the Year, having gone from strength-to-strength since achieving his international classification for competing in para-sport.

Standout achievements have included making his Commonwealth Games debut at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games and competing in the 2022 World Para Swimming Championships.

While Saffy is currently based in Canberra at the Australian Institute of Sport and unfortunately not able to collect his award in person and was instead represented by his parents during the presentations, he was appreciative of receiving the honour.

“As a regional athlete it was so important to have the support of SWAS as it really helped me to prepare for the experiences of the past year,” Saffy said.

“I really appreciate all that Bernice and her team do to help the athletes in the South West.

“To receive the Individual Male Athlete of the Year and Sports Star of the Year award is an honour, especially amongst so many talented athletes.”

Awards were presented to athletes and coaches across eight categories, with a diverse array of sporting disciplines represented by finalists and winners.

Dressage champion Lauren Rowe went home with not one but two awards, having earned the titles of Community Achiever of the Year and Individual Female Athlete of the Year.

Thomas Cross, who has been excelling at athletics, earned the Emerging Star of the Year title.

West Coast recruit Brady Hough secured Team Male Athlete of the Year, while AFLW shining star Ella Roberts and hockey talent Ashlee Jarvis were awarded Team Female Athlete of the Year.

Footy coach Matt Jamieson and Keith Old from hockey were both recipients of the Wally Foreman Coach of the Year Award for the contributions they have made to their respective sports.

Held annually to celebrate the achievements of athletes and coaches, the SWAS Awards have become an unmissable event on the region’s sporting calendar.

Among those who took to the stage to address the capacity crowd were Sport and Recreation Minister David Templeman, SWAS Chairman Guy Asser and former Perth Wildcats Vice-Captain and Founder of A Stitch in Time Greg Hire.

Lyn Foreman attended to help present the Wally Foreman Coach of the Year Award, media identity Shauna Willis emceed the event, and South Western Times journalist Justin Fris interviewed award winners. A video by Lomax Media that highlights the behind-the-scenes work of SWAS coaches and support service providers was screened.

SWAS Chief Executive Officer Bernice Butlion, who was honoured on the night for her 15 years of service leading the academy, said there was increasing recognition of the role SWAS plays in nurturing tomorrow’s champions.

“The calibre of athletes nominated for the awards were of a very high standard, congratulations to all the category winners and our Sports Star for 2022, Alex Saffy,” Butlion said.

“Greg Hire’s keynote address was spectacular and hopefully everyone took away some valuable points.

“Lastly, to all our supporters, sponsors and South West sporting community thank you.”

The event was made possible by a number of sponsors including The Apprentice and Traineeship Company, Hexion Australia, Summit Realty South West, Nexus Advisernet, RCR Mining Technologies, Onsite Rental Group, The Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries, Intersport Bunbury and Lomax Media.

 2022 SWAS Award Winners:

 Community Achiever of the Year Award 

Lauren Rowe (Dressage)


Emerging Star of the Year Award

Thomas Cross (Athletics)


Team Female Athlete of the Year Award

Ella Roberts (AFLW)

Ashlee Jarvis (Hockey)


Team Athlete of the Year Award

Brady Hough (AFL)


Individual Female Athlete of the Year

Lauren Rowe (Dressage)


Individual Male Athlete of the Year Award

Alex Saffy (Para-swimming)


Wally Foreman Coach of the Year Award

Matt Jamieson (Australian Rules Football)

Keith Old (Hockey)


SWAS Sports Star of the Year

Alex Saffy (Para-swimming)