CAROLYN Connors studied a science degree at the university in the early 1980s, with her academic achievements accompanied by numerous medals from multiple swimming events across the world.
Ms Connors, who swam competitively for a decade, was born blind.
In 1977 and 1982 she competed in the Far East and South Pacific Games for the Disabled, winning four medals in the latter meet.
In 1980 she broke the world 100m butterfly record at the National Blind Swimming Championships, as well as being the only female swimmer selected in the Australian team for the Paralympics held in Holland that year.
In 1982 she was named the University Sportsperson of the Year.
Her swimming career yielded 20 gold medals and numerous bronze and silver medals.
Ms Connors’ sporting determination was matched with a desire for academic achievement.
After studying at a teachers college for a year she was told she would not be allowed to do the practical teaching component, at which point she switched to the University of Newcastle.
In 1983, Ms Connors moved from swimming to athletics, with the change aimed at reducing the training hours and thus giving her more time to study.
In an interview with the Sydney Morning Herald in December 1983, Ms Connors said her degree must take priority, but that her personality would ensure she gave her new sport a determined shake.
“I doubt if I will ever reach the standard I did in swimming, but I guess my make-up demands that I give it a big try,” she said.