Susie O'Neill: Life After the Pool

August 24, 2009, 12:08 pmnewidea

As one of our best-ever swimmers, Susie O'Neill's adored by millions of Australians. But she says it's not a future she wants for her two kids.

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'I've taken them to the pool, but I'm not pushing the whole swimming thing,' says Susie, 36, who lives in Brisbane with her husband of 10 years, eye surgeon Cliff Fairley.

'I'm hoping they're not swimmers! I don't want to go through it again. It takes up a lot of time. I want them to have broader skills in a lot of things. But I just want them to be happy.'

The eight-time Olympic medal winner, who retired in 2000, says daughter Alix, five, William, three, and her charity work with The Fred Hollows Foundation are her focus now.

'The kids are a lot of fun. They've changed my life. I've become a better person because of them: I'm not so self-centred and I have more empathy,' she says.

'Athletes are very focused on themselves; they have to be to get to the top. But since I've had kids it's more about them and the family unit.'

Susie, aka Madame Butterfly, says she swims to relax these days but it took her a long time to get back in the water after retiring. 'I went through a stage for at least a couple of years when I hated swimming,' she says.

'Going into a pool was like going back to hard work, and the smell of chlorine made me feel ill. But now I'm back into it - I don't need to get up early to do it anymore!'

Susie's also ambassador for Colgate Oral Health Month, which is on now. She calls on all mums to start setting a good example to their kids on dental care:

'It's about setting up good habits in kids so they care for their teeth more than I did.'

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