Swimart Ambassador Susie O'Neill
My (very full) life since swimming
Susie O’Neill captured Australia’s collective heart and dominated the world stage during her career as an Olympic swimmer. Susie is Swimart’s brand ambassador, but what else has this powerhouse of the pool been doing for the past 15 years? Phyllis Stylianou spoke to Susie recently to find out.
It’s 15 years since you retired. Does it all seem like a dream now?
Probably. It seems like a different person, that’s for sure. Sometimes I still feel like a swimmer, and when I catch up with my old swimming friends it feels like it was yesterday, but other times it does feel like a different lifetime.
How have you adjusted to life post-swimming?
Pretty well I think. It was a little bit difficult I must admit. Probably because everything was controlled when I was a swimmer, right down to a hundredth of a second. Everything was really set and I knew how I was going by the result of my times. So coming out of that and not having a set structure is probably what I found the most difficult, but I think I’m just like normal people now, trying to juggle five or six things instead of just focussing on the one thing. That’s probably the main difference.
What have you done work-wise since then?
A variety of things. I’ve had a lot of endorsement deals. I’m still with Swimart, which is good. So that involves generally appearances or ads, or talking to schools or different groups and that sort of thing. The whole time I’ve pretty much worked for my husband as well. So I do that probably one or two days a week. He’s a doctor, so I do the practice management for his company. I’m doing breakfast radio three mornings a week as well on NOVA in Brisbane. So it’s a variety of different things. I’ve done some volunteer work for the Fred Hollows Foundation and for the Australian Olympic Committee, as well as part of their Australian Junior team that went to the Junior Olympics.
What have you done personally since then?
I’ve got two children. I’ve got an 11-year-old girl and a nine-year-old boy. I just try to keep fit. I’ve always loved sport, exercise, so I’ve kept that going in my life and trained for different events like triathlons and half marathons, ocean swims, different running events, different sporting events,
What’s the best thing that’s happened in the past 15 years?
Having my two children and all the stuff that goes with that. It’s definitely the hardest thing I’ve had to do. I found it a lot harder than swimming. Swimming is very selfish and you’re always focused on yourself and generally the harder you work the better results you get. Whereas I found that parenting is the complete opposite to that. But watching them play different sports or play music or just having fun together I find is really rewarding.
What’s in a typical day for you?
Every day’s different. The radio station’s Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday now, so on those days I get up at 4.45am and make lunches and then go to work via my friend’s coffee shop at about 5.30am and then go into the radio until about 9.30 or 10 o’clock. I try to do about an hour of exercise each day. Monday I do my husband’s admin, pay wages, pay invoices, reconcile accounts and then the usual chores interspersed with that – washing, cooking cleaning, ironing, shopping …
Did you ever imagine that this is where life would take you?
No. When I was at school I was pretty studious and did straight maths, science. My brother and sister are doctors so my life has gone in a really different way from them. I would have presumed my life would have been like theirs if I didn’t go swimming. But it’s really varied and I get to do different things all the time and get some amazing opportunities.
What do you enjoy most about your role as Swimart ambassador?
I get involved with their presentation nights each year, where the franchisees come together and they give out awards. I’ve also visited their stores on occasions. One of the most enjoyable things is meeting the franchisee. They’re always really nice people, really hardworking, quite often family companies. Quite often husband and wife or parents and children. So I really enjoy meeting them and finding out things outside their job – I’m interested in getting to know them personally.
What impresses you about Swimart?
The professionalism. They’ve got a really good image. There’s a lot of companies that do that kind of job, but I think they cut through because they all look the same and are heading towards the same direction.