Matt Levy OAM on juggling professional sport, work and study

Elite swimmer Matt Levy was awarded an Order of Australia Medal in 2014 for his accomplishments in the pool. He completed his degree online whilst working and training for his next Paralympics.

“I was looking for degrees to do and online was attractive. I work for Westpac bank in the north of Sydney as a project manager. I’ve been working for them for six years. I competed in three Paralympics. I made the team for Rio and am competing in my fourth Paralympics in September 2016.

I train every day and work four days a week, so I couldn’t go somewhere to study except my lounge room.  I wanted to get a degree behind me while I had the chance. I recognise that I wouldn’t get ahead without further upskilling.

I did a Bachelor of Business majoring in management. I completed 10 subjects in a diploma of marketing – these were recognised toward my degree. It helped me to knock off the degree in one year.

I finished my degree in February last year. I can’t talk highly enough about the support Swinburne gave me and other people who study online.

The degree enhanced my understanding of what I was doing at work and how I could do better in my role through the theory I learnt. Learning from other students was a highlight. Many were workers or mums with more lifeskills and experience.

"Swimming has taught me discipline. Studying taught me time management – to get assignments done by a specific time and manage my sport and professional life as well."

I’m an ambassador for Life’s Little Treasures, a not-for-profit that raises awareness for premature babies. I was born at 25 weeks leaving me with vision impairment and cerebral palsy. I get to show people there is light at the end of the tunnel, even if it is a pretty tough road. Life’s Little Treasures have a walk every year in October to raise money and raise awareness about the challenges that people can go through.

I was 16 at my first Paralympics – aspiring and inexperienced. Going to your first Olympics you get overwhelmed. Now that I’m hopefully wiser and definitely older, I know what to expect. What I’ve learnt I hope to improve upon and apply leading into Rio. I will compete in the 50m freestyle, 100m freestyle, 200m individual medley (50m of each stroke) and two relays.

I get up at 5am and train until 7am. I swim 5km in the morning and go to work from 8am to 3pm. I usually train in the afternoons and swim another 5km. I do eight pool sessions, two gym, one Pilates, one yoga and one cross-training session per week. All up it’s about 35hrs.

Swimming has taught me discipline. Studying taught me time management – to get assignments done by a specific time and manage my sport and professional life as well.

Go into your studies with an open mind. It’s not easy, but enjoy the experience, good and bad. Get something out of it and embrace every opportunity you get. Whether it takes you one, five or 10 years, it is a short space of time, so learn as much as you can while you are there. It will definitely hold you in good stead for the rest of your career.”