Leading Aircraftman Bailey Sheather, of No.1 Remote Sensor Unit based at RAAF Base Edinburgh, is an example of the diversity in talents of Air Force personnel, achieving a distinguished water polo career during his military service.

Joining Air Force as an air surveillance operator in 2018, Leading Aircraftman Sheather grew up in Newcastle, NSW, and was already an accomplished swimmer, holding numerous state and national titles. 

His skills had transferred easily to water polo and was selected for the Australian Water Polo team’s 2017 New Zealand tour.

Leading Aircraftman Sheather said traits developed through sport had served him well in the ADF.

“As a young boy I was taught that for there to be results, you must make sacrifices,” Leading Aircraftman Sheather said. 

“I could transfer my determination from a sporting career to a professional military career."

He was fortunate enough to represent Australia in sport and as well in the military. 

“Whenever I have the honour of representing my homeland, I experience that same spine-tingling feeling,” Leading Aircraftman Sheather said. 

I could transfer my determination from a sporting career to a professional military career.

“Both have similar expectations and I have been able to translate the skills developed during the time representing my country in water polo, to my role as air surveillance operator.”

He continues to devote time to sport, achieving a good balance between his commitments in the pool and his surveillance duties.

Reflecting on his selection for the ADF Water Polo team in 2019, Leading Aircraftman Sheather said it was an opportunity to meet fellow defence members from around the nation with the same love for the game.  

“The ADF has taught me many things professionally that I was not taught as an athlete, including timely decision-making, and an eye for detail, which I have developed both in an operational environment utilising tools at hand, such as the JORN Over-the-Horizon-Radar weapon system and the WAKULDA Command and Control system," he said.

While there have been many highs on his journey, it hasn't been without setbacks. 

Representation for the ADF at the 2020 Australian Country Championships in Queensland was cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions. However, with his committed approach to achieving his sporting and career goals, Leading Aircraftman Sheather continues to focus on the positives.

“While I was disappointed to not be able to represent my service in water polo again this season, there are people doing it a lot tougher than me at the moment,” he said. 

“I’m thankful knowing that if I continue putting in the hard work, I may have the opportunity again once travel and sporting events are able to resume.”