Inductee - Debbie Holland

Swimming Pool Underwater

Debbie Holland


In 1976 Debbie Holland was involved in a collision with a petrol tanker while riding to school on her bicycle. Her horrific injuries included multiple fractures to both legs, skull and shoulder blade, and tissue damage eventuating in the loss of her right leg above the knee.

After fourteen months of hospitalisation and rehabilitation she returned to school at Marymount College and along with completing her studies began to train in the pool.

A casual chat while being fitted with a new artificial limb was the first major step towards Debbie Holland seeking a sporting career in swimming. It was through this conversation that she heard about the National Games for Amputees, the only catch was that she had just five weeks to train for them.

Debbie enlisted the help of Nerang coach Bill Tomlinson and even with a rushed preparation competed at the nationals and qualified for the 1982 Fespic Games.

This meet was Debbie's first experience in major international competition. Far from daunted by the task Debbie took out 4 gold and 1 silver medal, setting new Games Records in four events and World Records in the 400m freestyle and 4 x 100m freestyle relay. Debbie won a further 12 gold medals at the 1986 and 1989 Fespic Games setting 9 Games Records at those events.

The 1984 Paralympic Games in New York was the next major goal in which she swam finals in four events.

Debbie then swam under Master Coach Laurie Lawrence for the following four years which took in the 1986 Fespic Games in Indonesia and the Seoul Paralympics in 1988. She reached the finals in six events at Seoul, winning bronze in the 400m freestyle and silver in the 4 x 100m freestyle relay.

To cap off her career Debbie swam four finals at the World Championships in the Netherlands. Under coach Lloyd Rhodes sho won gold in the 4 x 100m medley relay. Debbie also set World Records for Amputees in the 200m and 800m freestyle.