Susie Smith

For me, I first watched a water polo game at the old Henley Olympic Pool and immediately I knew I wanted to play that game!

Peter Bayne kindly offered to teach a few of us swimmers the basic skills over the winter season. There was Jo Gilbert, Natalie Hanson, De-Arne Smith, Nikki Fidler, Fiona Tomlin and myself as I recall, who after finishing our swim sessions eagerly jumped at the chance to learn eggbeater kick and how to pick up and pass the water polo ball in the freezing cold Police Academy pool at Fort Largs.

From that group of girls Peter, Jill Glastonbury and Lyn Kaesler coached through U16, U21, B Women and A Women teams at Henley we won the B grade premiership in our first year and A grade premiership a couple of years later.

I think this same group of girls, plus Sally Steinhardt who joined Henley later, went on to form the backbone of SA representative teams. Gaining junior success for SA with silver medal in 1987 (school girls) and bronze medals in 1986 (School girls), 1987 and 1989 (U21).

No doubt our swimming background and strong skills base enabled us to achieve this success. I know we developed a pretty good counter attacking game and scored many goals from off-the- water-shots learnt at the Fort Largs Police Academy on those freezing cold winter nights!

When I played there were no junior Australian squads for the girls. The only pathway to national selection was school girl teams and the Australian squad. Fiona Tomlin and I made the school girls team in 1987 and toured NZ. I then in 1989 progressed to the Australian squad on the back of a successful SA team coached by Jill Glastonbury at the nationals in Hobart in 1989 (bronze medal). This SA team was full of Henley representatives with Natalie Hanson, Vanessa Hanson, De-Arne Smith, Angie Smith, Tiera Mikuzia, Sally Steinhardt and myself making up half the squad!

Australian team camps were held at the AIS and from a group of about 30 girls, a team of 13 was selected to compete at the Coupe de Excellence in Montreal, Canada in early 1989, where we finished 4th. This was my first senior representative cap for Australia.

Following gruelling training camps back in Australia, I was selected for the team for the 1989 Fina World Cup in Eindenhoven, Holland. We finished 5th at the world cup ensuring automatic selection for the next world cup. Prior to the world cup we competed in an 8 Nations Tournament in Antwerp, Belgium, where we finished 3rd.

Playing for Australia was a wonderful privilege and was made possible by the kindness and dedication of my coaches and the many volunteers who gave so much of their time to water polo and our club. 

Summary of achievements:

  • 1987 Australia School Girls Water polo team

  • 1989-1990 Australian Water polo team

  • 1989-1994 Australian Swimming Squad

  • 1991-1994 AIS Swimming team

Australian Water Polo team

  • Player number 63 for Australia, 17 Caps for Australia

  • 1989 FINA World Cup, Eindenhoven Holland - placed 5th

  • 1989 Montreal Coup de Excellence, Canada – placed 4th

  • 1989 Antwerp 8 Nations International, Belgium – placed 3rd

  • 1990 International Invitational, Australia - versus Holland

Henley and Grange Women’s Water Polo

  • B Grade women’s team 1985/86 (premiers)

  • A grade women’s team 1986/87 (runners-up), 87/88 (premiers), 88/89 (premiers), 89/90 (premiers)

  • SA Women’s Water polo A Grade Best and Fairest 1986/87 (tied), 87/88, 88/89, 89/90, 90/91

South Australian team

  • SA School Girls team 1986 (bronze), 87 (silver)

  • SA U21 Women’s team 1987 (bronze), 88, 89 (bronze)

  • SA Women’s team 1987, 88, 89, 90, 91 (Captain)

International Swimming

  • 1993 Gold medallist 50m free Canada Cup

  • 1993 Silver medallist Oceania Games 100m free

  • 1993 Gold medallist Oceania Games 4 x 100m relay

  • 1993 Bronze medallist Oceania Games 50m free

  • 1991 Finalist World Universiade Games 4 x 100m free relay

  • 1993 Finalist World Universiade Games 4 x 100m free relay

National Swimming

  • 1991 Gold medallist Australian Short Course Championships

  • 1993 Gold medallist 100m free Australian Short Course Championships

  • 1990 Silver medallist Australian Short Course Championships

  • SA 100m Freestyle state champion 1989, 90, 91, 92


Cheers, and thank you Peter for all your contributions to the Henley and Grange Club and water polo more broadly. 

Peter Bayne's Note:

Susie was one of those rare talented people who represented her country at two sports, both of which were summer sports which is unique. It would have been interesting to see how far she could have gone in either swimming or water polo if she had concentrated on just one.