WHEN I walked out of the aquatic centre for the final time, I knew I had been a part of a very special occasion.
For seven days I was a volunteer in the Press Operations Photo Team at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.
Based at the Southport aquatic centre, I had the privilege of standing poolside to see swimmers and divers in action.
The excitement of the events and enthusiasm of the packed grandstands made it exhilarating but it was the action behind the scenes I enjoyed the most.
When watching sports on television, I take what I am seeing for granted. Not any more.
In my volunteer position I was fortunate to witness all aspects involved in making the swimming and diving competitions happen.
Much of this is done by volunteers. Without them events like the 21st Commonwealth Games would not happen.
Giving my time, energy and skills freely has allowed me to make connections, given me a sense of achievement and an opportunity to develop new talents and explore new fields.
Volunteering gave me an escape from my everyday routine. Not only did I find it fulfilling but it was fun, particularly meeting the diverse range of people from all corners of the Commonwealth, young and old, from all backgrounds and walks of life.
The team I was fortunate enough to work with at the Games made the job extra memorable.
Managers Dillon Bryden and Simon Baker ensured the adventure was a rewarding one for me.
Their management skills meant shifts were relaxed and enjoyable. Even though at times their stress levels were going through the roof (lucky the pool didn't have one), they kept it together, organising their team of volunteers to make sure we gained an insight into the world of sports photographers.
As a volunteer I got to see the workings behind the scenes. For example, it was a privilege to watch how the underwater cameras are positioned.
Simon Lodge, an underwater film and photography specialist, was in charge of bringing those amazing underwater shots of swimmers and divers to screens and print.
The hours these people put in to get the job done made my time at the venue look insignificant, but they always thanked me for my contributions and said they couldn't do it without the helpers.
There's no doubt the volunteers kept GC2018 ticking. Providing voluntary labour in a variety of roles and tasks meant the athletes, coaches, dignitaries, visitors and spectators had a memorable and hopefully good experience.
I have taken away some great memories and I will remember my involvement in the Commonwealth Games for a long while.
Volunteering makes a difference. It feels good to help others and give back to the community.
Would I do it again? You bet I would.