Why Australian swimming legend Susie O’Neill has broken another world record in the pool


How Aussie pool queen Susie O’Neill broke another world record in her first race since the Sydney Olympics as part of her ‘birthday celebrations’ despite ‘just swimming for a bit of fun!’

  • O’Neill has broken another world record 
  • Swimming great set mark in 50m butterfly 
  • Was first race in the pool for 23 years 

It’s been 23 years since the Sydney Olympics and pool queen Susie O’Neill hasn’t skipped a beat, with the Aussie legend breaking a world record in the 50m butterfly without even realising it. 

As the eight-time Olympic medallist prepares to celebrate her 50th birthday, she is gearing up to swim at the World Masters tournament in Japan next month alongside her radio co-hosts Ash Bradnam and David ‘Lutsy’ Lutteral and a listener in a mixed relay.

In order to qualify for the event, O’Neill had to post an individual time – and she certainly managed that, racing for the first time since she won gold at the Sydney Olympics in 2000.

She popped down to her local pool in Brisbane to do so and proved exactly why she got the ‘Madame Butterfly’ moniker during her decade-long career as one of Australia’s greatest-ever swimmers. 

Qualify she did, setting a 50m butterfly world record (28.95 seconds) in the process in the 50-54 age bracket – and so casual is her greatness, she didn’t even realise! 

Pool queen Susie O'Neill (pictured being inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame in 2018) has set yet another world record...and so casual is her greatness she didn't even realise!

Pool queen Susie O’Neill (pictured being inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame in 2018) has set yet another world record…and so casual is her greatness she didn’t even realise!

O'Neill, pictured with her gold medal at the Sydney Olympics, has not skipped a beat since retiring - breaking a world record in her first race in 23 years

O’Neill, pictured with her gold medal at the Sydney Olympics, has not skipped a beat since retiring – breaking a world record in her first race in 23 years

The swimming legend was at a Brisbane pool to qualify for the World Masters - and did so with flying colours

The swimming legend was at a Brisbane pool to qualify for the World Masters – and did so with flying colours

‘It was weird, I had no idea about the record,’ she told News Corp after successfully qualifying for the World Masters in Fukuoka, Japan next month.

‘I was just swimming for a bit of fun, as part of my 50th birthday celebrations next month.’

Bradnam, Lutteral and listener Kylie, who qualified after their popular radio show Ash, Luttsy and Susie O’Neill conducted a swim-off, will now head to the tournament with a world record holder that will be the envy of every mixed relay team. 

O’Neill said prior to popping down to Chandler Acquatic Centre in her native Brisbane that she ‘didn’t think I’d ever be walking back into this place again for a swim meet!’

But old habits die hard, and after winning 24 gold medals at major world tournaments, O’Neill picked up right where she left off after her win in the 200m freestyle at the Sydney Olympics.

‘It’s my first butterfly race since the 200m butterfly in Sydney. Actually it’s my first comp since the Sydney Olympics,’ said the swimming legend.

‘I didn’t think I’d ever be coming to a swim meet again, and once again it’s affected all 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 brilliance

Pictured celebrating after winning gold in the 200m freestyle at the Sydney Olympics, O’Neill has clearly lost none of her swimming brilliance

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

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

The World Aquatics Masters Championships are held just after the world championships in Japan, where Aussie superstars like Kyle Chalmers, Emma McKeon and Ariarne Titmus will be vying for gold against the best in the world.

They could do far worse than to follow the lead of O’Neill, who has always set the example in and outside the pool with brilliant grace, athleticism and good old Aussie competitiveness.

Two Olympic gold medals to go with four silver and two bronze, four world titles, 11 Commonwealth Games golds and a litany of other individual honours, such as being inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame as the 34th Legend of Australia Sport. 

And of course she broke one of swimming’s most enduring world records – the 200m butterfly held by Mary Meagher – just prior to her memorable Sydney Olympic gold. 

And nearly a quarter of a century later, she’s still getting it done in the pool. 



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