When Susie O’Neill Flew On Free Not ‘Fly For Gold In Front Of Homebush Crowd

Susie O'Neill by Patrick B. Kraemer

Sydney 2000, 15 years on: this was the day Susie O’Neill won the bonus home Olympics gold at the tail end of a career marked by an amazing stat: she never raced for Australia in major international waters without making the podium

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Sydney 2000, 15 years on: this was the day Susie O’Neill won the bonus home Olympics gold at the tail end of a career marked by an amazing stat: she never raced for Australia in major international waters without making the podium

Comments

aswimfan

One of my top fave female swimmers!!

commonwombat

O’Neill’s relationship with the 200FS was a curious one. For almost all of her career, she was the best Australian in both 100 & 200FS but both event were considered secondary to her fly events and she rarely raced them seriously internationally.

In 1999, she was actually wanting to drop the 200FS from her program and only swim it in relays. Her coach, Volkers, made a deal with her that if she broke the long-standing AUS record (held by Michelle Pearson & dating back to 84 OLympics); he would agree to her request.

At 1999 Pan Pacs, she not only broke the AUS record (by over a second) but her 1.58.18 was the fastest time internationally for that year. The deal was quickly ditched as even O’Neill herself recognised that she was “too damned good” in this event to drop it !!

One of O’Neill’s most overlooked legacies for the AUS women’s program is actually her commitment to relays. She openly stated that she didn’t want “team captaincy” or any such titles but she would commit fully to any relay team.

This example “rubbed off” on other major AUS female swimmers who came through in this period and has, largely, remained the culture of the AUS women’s side. Whereas it took until the later 90s; with the arrival of Hackett, Klim & Thorpe (all with strong relay commitments); for a similar development on the male side.

Yozhik

Remarkably similar to the story of Sarah Sjostrom. It cannot be just a simple coincidence. There should be something in it.

Yozhik

🙂 It looks like 200 fs is a consolation race. The race for those who cannot swim fast and for those who doesn’t have endurance to swim longer distances. None of selfrespected noble swimmers will go that low to swim along side with those misarable commonors. Unless of course there is nobody there to be an obstacle for the easy kill. 🙂 That’s why we are witnessing either periods of long stagnation or periods when everybody is coming to compete from any directions.

Yozhik

Or one can say that the 200vs is a Perl among all swimming disciplines that requires speed, toughness, smartness and racing abilities molded together in something very unique. So unique that not many can be up to such challange.

aswimfan

200 free is among my favorite events.

It’s very fast but you can still enjoy and follow the race and there are even changes in leadership throughout the race.
Many of sprinters, all the middle distance and some distance greats swim in it.
It’s even the choice of freestyle event for non-freestylers who want to prove their greatness (eg. Phelps, Lochte, and now Hagino).
It can be very tactical, that’s why you don’t often see many fast times during worlds/olympics. Many great 200 freestylers have fallen victims in the major championships to this very nature of 200 free.

Craig Lord

Yes, Yozhik, there is a whole study to do in the women’s 200m free (in particular)…

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