Susie O’Neill Shatters Another World Record to Celebrate 50th Birthday

Australian legend Susie O’Neill (aka Madame Butterfly) broke a world record in a sensational return to international swimming competition at the World Masters Swimming Championships in Japan in early August.

The two-time Olympic gold medallist won the 50m butterfly in a time of 29.08 seconds, breaking the world record and championship record for her 50-54 age group.

O’Neill just touched out Great Britain’s Michelle Ware by 0.52 sec to win the gold.

As part of her 50th birthday celebrations, O’Neill agreed to compete at the Masters championships in a relay event with her Nova 106.9 Breakfast co-hosts Ash Bradnam and David Lutteral, plus one of their listeners.

O’Neill looked silky smooth in the water and led from start to finish to win the gold medal in her first international race in 23 years since her retirement after the Sydney Olympics.

“I felt like vomiting at the end to be honest,” told her radio co-hosts in a post-swim interview.  In the olden days I was nervous before the race, but I was calmer when I went out behind the block.

“This was like the opposite. I was calm before, but as I walked out behind the blocks I got a bit disheveled compared to normal. Really jittery.

“It was time to go out, and my goggles had come apart. My hands were shaking and I couldn’t put my goggles on because they came apart at the nose-piece.

“So, I had to get a lady to help me, and the girl that I ended up just beating was trying to calm me down. My nerves hit me really, really badly.

“I got a massive surge of adrenaline, and I reckon it helped me,” she said, adding she didn’t initially realize she had broken the record.

“I wasn’t sure when I first finished.”

Despite the nerves, the swimming legend relished some moments of camaraderie in the marshalling room.

“I met so many people in the marshalling area that I knew. For example, there was a Canadian girl in that race, and we swapped clothes in 1989 when we came to Japan for the Pan Pacific Games.

“This will be a one-and-done. It’s more just to go over and have a bit of fun for my 50th, compete in the relay with the (Nova) boys,” she said.  “I’m not going to compete anymore.

“I’m still going to just have fun training my squad. But no more races.”