In 2009, the AIMES Supreme Award was presented to swimmer Melissa Ingram. The backstroke specialist had placed 11th at the Beijing Olympics the previous year in a New Zealand record time. At the 2006 Commonwealth Games, she was part of the bronze medal-winning team in the 4 x 200m freestyle relay team.
"Winning the Supreme AIMES Award was amazing. It meant I had the funding and the confidence to keep pursuing my swimming career. It was the financial and confidence boost I needed to keep going in the sport."
Melissa had suffered a speed bump in her career when an undiagnosed severe iron deficiency led to her narrowly missing out on qualifying for the Swimming World Championships that year.
"It was life-changing, winning the AIMES Award; without it I honestly don't know if I'd have found the strength – mentally, emotionally and financially – to keep going in swimming."
She went on to break the Commonwealth Games record in the 200m backstroke at the 2010 Delhi Games the following year. As well as qualifying for her second Olympics in London 2012, she collected a career haul of 'around 50’ international medals.
Since retiring from swimming in 2013, Melissa has worked for Swimming New Zealand, a PR agency and a private training college, all in communications roles. She married her firefighter husband in 2017 and the couple have two sons, aged two and four.
Now, Melissa (with her married name, Harrison) has made a return to the North Harbour Club. She is working part-time on communications and marketing, after taking on the new role in May.
"I really want to support the work of this unique club. I aim to help raise awareness and let more people know about the amazing work it does.
"It's really cool to see how the club has developed and branched out into more areas over the past few years, with initiatives such as the NeXT membership for younger people, for example. I'm really passionate about this work!"
Melissa looks forward to the full-circle moment of her first AIMES Awards Gala Night, this June, as a team member of the Club. "It will be amazing to be there to see lots of familiar faces and reminisce! But it's also going to be great to be there to support the next round of AIMES Awards winners this time around. It'll be special."
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