Lea Yanitsas readily admits she wasn't always a water athlete, starting in netball, touch football and running.
It wasn't until Yanitsas started at Mackellar Girls High School, on the Northern Beaches, where she met Debbie Watson that she made the decision to trade her runners for swimmers. Watson, Sydney 2000 Olympic Women's waterpolo gold medalist and then PE teacher at the school, inspired Yanitsas to take up water polo.
Not the strongest swimmer, Yanitsas ended up in the goals and she has cemented her place in the 'cage' since, guarding the net for the Australia Women's Waterpolo Team, the Aussie Stingers for over a decade.
Yanitsas cherishes the many friendships she has made through water polo and considers these relationships to be some of the most powerful in her life.
A beach lover, who finds peace in the salt water and sun, Yanitsas is renowned for her ability to bounce back. After finding herself out for the 2014 international season, requiring two finger operations and numerous hours of hip rehabilitation, before making her Olympic debut in Rio 2016.
Being a qualified physiotherapist, working at the Royal Hospital for Women in Randwick, Lea pursues her career outside of waterpolo. Her special interest being women's health and she is completing her Masters in Continence and Women's Health Physiotherapy through Curtin University in Perth.
Using her experience and knowledge in the field Yanitsas returned to international season for the 2019 FINA World Champs where the Stingers finished with a bronze. Just a year after she and her husband, Andrew, welcomed their son, Constantine, to the world at the end of October 2018.
Attending the Tokyo Olympics in the circumstances the world and all athletes faced, while raising a little boy, was a truly remarkable feat and a dream come true for Lea who is adamant that none of her achievements would have been possible without the constant support and encouragement from her remarkable husband and family.