Susie O’Neill Breaks Masters World Record in First Race Since Sydney 2000 Olympics

Australian swimming legend Susie O’Neill visited Chandler Aquatic Centre in Brisbane for her first competition since the Sydney 2000 Olympics and left with a new masters world record in the SCM 50 butterfly on Saturday.

The eight-time Olympic medalist clocked a time of 28.95 in the SCM 50 fly, taking down Erika Braun’s previous masters world record of 29.14 for the 50-54 age group from last October.

Racing for the first time in 23 years, O’Neill qualified for the World Masters Championships later this summer in Japan. She’s only 49 years old, but she’s eligible for 50-54 age group records thanks to World Aquatics’ rules that base competition age on swimmers’ age as of December 31 of that year.

O’Neill turns 50 on August 2 — the first day of the World Masters Championships.

O’Neill, who now hosts the Nova 106.9 morning radio show Ash, Luttsy, and Susie, will make the trip to Japan next month along with her co-hosts. Ash Bradnam, David “Luttsy” Lutteral, and a listener named Kylie who won a swim-off will join O’Neill on a mixed relay as part of her 50th birthday celebrations.

“I was just swimming for a bit of fun, as part of my 50th birthday celebrations next month,” O’Neill said. “It’s my first butterfly race since the 200 butterfly in Sydney. Actually it’s my first comp since the Sydney Olympics. I didn’t think I’d ever be coming to a swim meet again, and once again it’s affected all my weekend plans.”

In January, O’Neill said in an interview that she sets her alarm for 3:45 a.m. most mornings and swims 3 kilometers in the pool before heading to the studio for her breakfast radio show.

O’Neill’s impressive career included two gold, four silver, and two bronze medals at the Olympics as well as four world titles and 11 Commonwealth Games golds. Australia’s “Madame Butterfly” is perhaps best known for breaking the longest-standing world record in swimming history belonging to Mary T. Meagher with a 2:05.81 200 fly in 2000.

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10 months ago

Adding a little detail to this story. At the Aussie world championship trials last Friday night, 19-yo Elizabeth Dekkers (Chandler) clocked 2:05.26 to move to 3rd on the Aussie all-time list, surpassing O’Neill’s then world-record time set in May 2000 at the Olympic Trials. Of course American Misty Hyman created a huge upset to edge out O’Neill for Olympic gold just a few months later.
I spoke briefly with O’Neill at the SC Masters meet at Chandler in Brisbane and she was not aware of Dekkers performance the night before.
It is interesting that they “qualified” for a World Championships event (LCM) swimming in a short course event but it was all about promotion for the Brisbane radio… Read more »

B+ masters swimmer
11 months ago

Congrats to Susie!

This article is a bit confusing with the facts though.

Susie is age 50 according to FINA rules. Several others have already clarified that in the comments.

Her above-mentioned 28.95 50 fly was at a SHORT COURSE meet. “Brisbane Southside Masters SC Meet 2023” in Meet Mobile.

This lowers Erika Braun’s previous record of 29.14 from 2022 by .19 in the 50-54 age group.

Erika still holds the LONG COURSE record of 29.47 – also from 2022 and 50-54 age group. At the time of this comment, the article is referencing the 29.47 long course time, which still remains.

The unoriginal Tim
11 months ago

As others have said her age means this is the 50-54 record.

BTW – gets up at 3:45am? What time does she go to bed? This is why I had to give up masters swimming I can’t get up early enough.

Nick the biased Aussie
Reply to  The unoriginal Tim
11 months ago

Because she does a morning radio ahow that probably starts at 5:30/6:00am

Reply to  The unoriginal Tim
11 months ago

She hosts a morning radio show so needs to swim before that…. I couldn’t operate getting up at 3.45! That feels like the middle of the night.

The Original Tim
11 months ago

The rule for LCM competition for Masters is that your age as of 12/31 is your age for competition.

As such, she set the WR for the 50-54 age group, not missed out on Braun’s 45-49 record.

Stanley Clark
11 months ago

More doping in Masters Swimming than any Cheech and Chong movie I ever remember

cant kick cant pull
Reply to  Stanley Clark
11 months ago

more doping in swimming generally than cheech and chong all aboard the pineapple express

Nick the biased Aussie
Reply to  Stanley Clark
10 months ago

Stanley must still be trying to crack 40 for his 50m fly

Sweet Sweet Peter Rosen
11 months ago

If she’s turning 50 this year isn’t she considered 50 and it is a masters WR for LCM?

Kurt Dickson
11 months ago

My understanding would be if she ages up this summer, then she is actually 50 all year for FINA rules. She would NOT be considered for 45-49 records and thus probably did break 50-54 record.

Last edited 11 months ago by Kurt Dickson
Mediocre Swammer
Reply to  Kurt Dickson
11 months ago

That is my understanding as well. I think I remember that the US does theirs different, so Janet Evans set a US record in the 35-39 and the world record in the 40-44 (those age groups might not be right?) at the same time?

ACC fan
11 months ago

Wouldn’t she be 50 already the way Masters counts SCM and LCM age groups, age as of December 31st?

About Riley Overend

Riley is an associate editor interested in the stories taking place outside of the pool just as much as the drama between the lane lines. A 2019 graduate of Boston College, he arrived at SwimSwam in April of 2022 after three years as a sports reporter and sports editor at newspapers …

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