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Michael Owen

inducted 2019 Sports

Michael Owen claims that as a boy he, “wasn’t much of an athlete” on school sports days, but he always had fun. But what Michael really means, surely, is that maybe he wasn’t a great athlete on dry land. Just add water, however, and everything changes.

Because Michael and his brothers – David, Rodney and Mark - are synonymous with the Warrnambool Surf Life Saving Club where their father, Bruce, a former Australian surf ski champion, was president during the 1970s.

The young Owen brothers joined the Nippers when Nippers first began in Warrnambool, and by the time Michael was 15, he had already been involved in surf lifesaving for 10 years. He would go straight from school to the beach until it was dark, or until a threatening phone call from his mother, Shirley, to the caretaker of the club would send the boys home. Once his brother, David, got his licence, the boys became more independent and travelled to surf club competitions in an old Fairlane that could hold all of their surf skis – they called it the “Cattle Truck”. The Owen brothers were now on the move and enormous success followed.

Michael was in Year 10 when he won the Victorian Under 15 single ski title and thought that he might make a go of the sport. Since that early support from his family and school, he has racked up a staggering number of titles and is regarded as one of the most successful ski paddlers in Victorian Life Saving history. We could fill pages listing those successes, so we will name just a few:

  • Winner of five State Individual Open Ski Championships and placed in the top three for a period of over 20 years
  • Made the Victorian State Team five times and represented Victoria in the USA
  • Won the Australian State Team Ski Race as Victoria’s Captain
  • An Australian medallist three times in the Open Double Ski, once in the Junior Double Ski, and once in the Australian Open Ski Team Championships
  • Four gold, four silver and six bronze medals at the Australian Surf Lifesaving Championships from 1982 to 2004
  • Age group World Titles in the Single Ski and the Life-Saving Ski Relay

Alongside his own success, Michael has been critical to the growth of the Warrnambool Surf Lifesaving Club. He has been a patrol captain, a long-serving club captain, and club president from 2014-2018. He was made a Life Member in 1998.

In this time, Michael has mentored and trained dozens of cadets and the Bronze Medallion squad. He has also been involved in countless rescues as part of the highly skilled response team. The team unity also helps members to cope when there is a fatality in the surf, of which Michael has seen four.

Out of the water, Michael initially began training as a science teacher before switching to physical education. He was 18 months into his first job at Portland when his former CBC science teacher, John Hingston, as Acting Principal of CBC, asked Michael to return to his old school. It proved a perfect fit.

Michael has served in a number of leadership roles in the College and was this year recognised by the Diocese for 30 years of service. He has loved watching his students go on to achieve their own sporting successes, such as Olympic cyclist Michelle Ferris.

As Michael says, both surf lifesaving and teaching are not just about the individual, but developing a great team that inspires everyone to achieve their best.

Michael Owen

2019 Inspiring Alumni

Class of 1982