'Madame Butterfly' drops in for Hamilton Island Triathlon
TRIATHLON: Eight-time Olympic medallist Susie O'Neill will be bringing her swimming expertise north for the 10th anniversary of the Hamilton Island Triathlon from November 16.
O'Neill won Gold Medals at the 1996 and 2000 Olympic games and holds the Australian women's record for most Olympic medals.
In 1997, she was awarded the Order of Australia Medal for service to sport, an honour repeated in May this year for significant service to swimming at an elite level.
In 2002, O'Neill was inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame and in 2012 she was elevated to become Sport Australia's 34th Legend of Australian Sport.
Nicknamed "Madame Butterfly” for her prowess in butterfly stroke, the Australian swimmer will be sharing her best advice with triathletes at meet and greet opportunities before the main events on November 17-18.
The 200m butterfly world record holder has been an ambassador of the triathlon for six years and will be joined by fellow ambassador, 2016 Olympic triathlete Ryan Fisher.
O'Neill will be available for a question and answer session on Catseye Beach before joining triathletes for a trial swim during "Swim with the Stars” on Friday.
With more than 30 years of swimming experience behind her, O'Neill said her main message to triathletes will be to try and relax.
"Swimming in the ocean is very different to pool swimming. Doing ocean swims, it's easy for people, myself included, to lose breath,” she said.
"So when you dive into the water, concentrate on blowing breath out. Try and keep your stroke as you would in a pool.
"Whenever I've done a swim in Catseye Beach, it's been really smooth and glassy. Quite often you can see turtles or coral beneath you.”
O'Neill will participate in the Whitehaven Beach Ocean Swim on Sunday and identified keeping direction on the course as another challenge triathletes may face.
"Pools have a black line so you can go straight. You usually see the bottom at Whitehaven, but no line. So you need to look up every now and then to make sure you can see the buoys in the distance,” she said.
As anticipation builds ahead of the event, O'Neill, Fisher and fellow triathletes will "eat like a pro” at Sails restaurant on Friday from 7pm.
Then, on Saturday from 3.30pm, O'Neill will be joined by Bondi Rescue's Andrew "Reidy” Reid for a children's confidence clinic working on swim technique ahead of the junior triathlon on Sunday.
But O'Neill has been just as active out of the water. with her career as a breakfast radio presenter on Ash, Kip and Luttsy with Susie O'Neill taking off on Nova 106.9FM in 2016.
"I'm doing a breakfast radio show four mornings a week which will become five next year,” she said.
"I'm really enjoying having a radio job but I've also got two kids in high school and I like to keep myself fit.
"So I've got enough challenges to keep me excited about getting up in the morning!”
Her latest surprise achievement came on Valentines Day 2018 when O'Neill broke into the music industry, releasing a spoof love song, dedicated to husband of twenty years, Cliff Fairley.
The single, titled My Heart Went Boom, was created by O'Neill with Nova creative writer Ben Davies and audio producer Josh Burton, and listed on iTunes.
O'Neill said money raised from the single was donated to the Fred Hollows Foundation for eliminating avoidable blindness.
But for now, O'Neill is taking some time away from the bustle of everyday life for her visit to the Whitsundays.
"I'm looking forward to visiting beautiful Hamilton Island and getting away, but also experiencing the buzz of the triathlon and chatting to the triathletes,” she said.