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Swimmer Bianca Crisp finds connection through AIS Share a Yarn

27 November 2023

The AIS Share a Yarn program continues to provide swimmer Bianca Crisp with much-needed connection as she pursues a spot on the Paris 2024 team.

For open-water swimmer and proud Wiradjuri woman Bianca Crisp, having a safe space to connect with her culture, country and community is important to her success both in and out of the water.

The 24-year-olds great grandmother was part of the Stolen Generation and is who inspired Crisp to join the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) Share a Yarn program in pursuit of a supportive cultural environment.

“I've never had a safe space with other Indigenous athletes who are experiencing similar things to me, so to have that connection to others in Share Yarn is really special,” Crisp said.

The AIS Share a Yarn First Nations Cultural Connection program supports young First Nations athletes like Crisp by connecting them with mentors and mob throughout their sporting careers.

The Queenslander joined the 2023 Share a Yarn group at the AIS in Canberra for a cultural camp, which saw 10 First Nations athletes from five sports connect with each other, their mentors and Ngunnawal country.

“It was such an amazing experience to be in a high performance environment and to have that cultural aspect. To connect with other indigenous athletes and mentors was really special,” Crisp said.

Crisp has been paired with Share a Yarn mentor and decorated para-swimmer Ben Austin OAM.

Ben Austin holds post-it note while Bianca points and talks.
SaY mentor Ben Austin (left) and mentee Bianca Crisp (right) attended cultural camp at AIS in Canberra.

“Ben’s unique take on things has really benefited me. He has passed down his knowledge and experience as a First Nations athlete in a high performance and high-pressure environment that I can take away to help my performance,” Crisp said.

Austin said: “I really hope the mentees feel comfortable to reach out at any stage of their career and know they're not alone, they can have a yarn with us any time and draw upon the experiences that we've learnt surviving the high performance system.”

While keeping her sights set on the Paris 2024 and Los Angeles 2028 Olympic Games, the 10km marathon swimmer aims to become a doctor dedicated to closing the gap and making a positive impact in the lives of First Nations people.

Already an active First Nations advocate, Crisp supports Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students at Griffith University’s as an officer for the GUMURRII Student Success Unit and said she hopes to one-day transition to a mentor in the Share a Yarn program.

"I think being able to come back and inspire others would be an honour and something really special that I'm striving towards.

“If I can just inspire one other person, then that makes all the difference.”

Learn more about the AIS Share a Yarn program.

Bianca standing holding boomerang.
Bianca Crisp (left) found connection at AIS Share a Yarn cultural camp on Ngunnawal country.
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