Rocky Bay customer Peter Furnell with former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.



When Rocky Bay customer Peter Furnell first took the plunge in 2010, no one could have predicted his epic achievements as a Special Olympics swimming athlete since then.

Becoming a Special Olympics swimming athlete has taken Peter all over Australia, including a meet-and-greet with then Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in 2019, and internationally, representing Australia in the Special Olympics games for swimming in New Zealand and Abu Dhabi.

Throughout his numerous travels and swimming competitions, Peter has bought back with him an impressive collection of medals, spanning bronze, silver, and plenty of golds.

The story continues...

Peter beams with excitement when talking about swimming, “I love it, I like doing it and it feels good,” Peter says.

Peter’s Mum Dee explains how Peter’s involvement in swimming was firstly about him having fun.

“We wanted Peter to first have fun, get fit, make friends and have some social interaction. It was his sister who suggested Special Olympics swimming, she took him along and the rest is history, he just really took to it,” says Dee.

Since 2010, Peter has embraced the sport and the training that comes along with it, working incredibly hard to achieve all his successes.

“Training is really hard work, but I enjoy it,” Peter says.

Peter trains on average 2-3 times week throughout the whole year.

Before Peter received NDIS support, he would walk over to HBF arena on his own from his accommodation and back, three times a week, a reflection of sheer determination.

“Competing [in the Special Olympics] is not a given, it is something you earn. Peter is aware you must train, and you must continually improve. We’ve got some serious training next year,” Dee says.

“We are very proud of him,” Dee says.

Peter is cheered on by his whole family, especially his parents Derek and Dee, with Dee now trained as a swimming coach, coaching his Special Olympics team.

“I came back from one of the games and said I want to be a part of this,” Dee says. She is a big part of Peter’s training and they both look forward to working with on ‘some serious techniques’ going forward.

Swimming has opened many wonderful doors for Peter, including giving him the opportunity to travel, develop his social skills, make friends and become a Special Olympics athlete leader.

As an athlete leader, Peter was one of the first athletes to undertake training to develop leadership skills and now can mentor and guide other athletes.

Peter also champions fundraising initiatives for Special Olympics and recently partook in the Law Enforcement Torch Run, which ended in a polar plunge.

How we helped

Swimming isn’t his only achievement, with Peter achieving October Artist of the Month at Rocky Bay Studio’s, where he has been a customer for the past two years.

His artwork in Rocky Bay’s Studio features a range of pieces, with elements of his love of swimming and the water represented throughout.

As well as taking art workshops in Rocky Bay’s Studio, Peter enjoys cooking classes, allowing him another outlet to showcase his great work ethic.

There’s no slowing down for Peter, with plans to compete in the Special Olympics State Games, National Games in 2026 and World Games in 2027, where he’s certain to bring home a few more medals to add to his already impressive collection.

View Peter’s artwork on our website here! You can find out more about the Rocky Bay Studio here.

A few words


I love it, I like doing it and it feels good

- Peter Furnell

Rocky Bay customer Peter with his swimming medals.

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