How Aussie Arctic Queen Susie O’Neill broke another world record in her first race since the Sydney Olympics as part of her ‘birthday celebration’ despite ‘just swimming for a bit of fun!’
- O’Neill has broken another world record
- Great swimming in the 50 meter butterfly
- Was the first race in the pool in 23 years
It’s been 23 years since the Sydney Olympics and Arctic Queen Susie O’Neill hasn’t skipped a beat, and the Australian legend broke a world record in the 50m butterfly without realizing it.
As the eight-time Olympic medalist prepares to celebrate her 50th birthday, she prepares to swim next month at the World Masters tournament in Japan, alongside her radio hosts Ash Bradnam and David “Lutsy” Lutteral and a listener in a mixed relay race. .
To qualify for the event, O’Neill had to set an individual time – and she certainly succeeded, for the first time since winning gold at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
She went to her local swimming pool in Brisbane for that, proving exactly why she was nicknamed ‘Madame Butterfly’ during her decade-long career as one of Australia’s best-ever swimmers.
She qualified and in the process set a world record in the 50-meter butterfly stroke (28.95 seconds) in the age group 50-54 – and so casual is her greatness that she didn’t even realize it!
Arctic queen Susie O’Neill (pictured inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame in 2018) has set another world record… and so casual is her greatness that she didn’t even realize it!
Pictured with her gold medal at the Sydney Olympics, O’Neill hasn’t skipped a beat since retiring – she broke a world record in her first race in 23 years
The swimming legend was in a pool in Brisbane to qualify for the World Masters – and did so with flying colors
“It was weird, I had no idea about the record,” she said News Corp after successfully qualifying for the World Masters in Fukuoka, Japan next month.
“I was just swimming for fun, as part of my 50th birthday next month.”
Bradnam, Lutteral and listener Kylie, who qualified after their hit radio show Ash, Luttsy and Susie O’Neill held a swim-off will now enter the tournament with a world record holder that would be the envy of any mixed relay team.
O’Neill said before heading to the Chandler Acquatic Center in her native Brisbane that she “didn’t think I’d ever walk back to this place to swim!”
But old habits persist, and after winning 24 gold medals in major world tournaments, O’Neill picked up where she left off after her 200m freestyle win at the Sydney Olympics.
“It’s my first butterfly stroke since the 200m butterfly in Sydney. It’s actually my first competition since the Sydney Olympics,” said the swimming legend.
“I didn’t think I’d ever come to a swim meet again, and again it’s affected all of my weekend plans.”
Pictured celebrating after winning gold in the 200m freestyle at the Sydney Olympics, O’Neill has clearly lost none of her swimming talent
O’Neill will race in the mixed relay alongside radio co-hosts Ash Bradnam (right) and David ‘Lutsy’ Lutteral (left) and listener Kylie (second from right) at the World Masters
Held just after the World Championships in Japan, the World Aquatics Masters Championships will see Australian superstars such as Kyle Chalmers, Emma McKeon and Ariarne Titmus battle it out for gold against the best in the world.
They could do much worse than follow the lead of O’Neill, who has always led by example in and out of the pool with brilliant grace, athleticism and good old Aussie competitiveness.
Two Olympic golds to go with four silvers and two bronzes, four world titles, 11 Commonwealth Games golds and a litany of other individual honours, as inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame as the 34th Legend of Australia Sport.
And, of course, she broke one of the most enduring world records in swimming – the 200m butterfly held by Mary Meagher – just before her memorable Olympic gold in Sydney.
And almost a quarter of a century later, she still gets it done in the pool.