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Susan O'Neill

World Fastest, Australia's Best

While focusing on breaking the 200-meter butterfly record, O'Neill managed to set a new record as part of the 4x200-meter freestyle relay team. Not long afterwards, at a World Cup meet in Malmo, Sweden, she broke Meagher's record for the 200-meter butterfly short course with a time of 2:04.16. She went on to win her tenth consecutive national open title in the 100-meter butterfly, and then break the Commonwealth record for the 200-meter freestyle with a time of 1:59.11.

The day after O'Neill surpassed Beaurepaire for the most Australian swimming titles, she finally became the fastest 200-meter butterfly swimmer in the world. On May 17, 2000, with fifteen seconds to spare, O'Neill broke a record that had existed for almost twenty years and one that had been a personal goal of hers for three years with a time of 2:05.81.

Hoping to maintain the momentum gained from having set a world record in her sport, O'Neill represented her country in the 2000 Olympics held in Sydney, Australia. She had already won gold medals for the 200-meter butterfly in two previous Olympics and set her sights on defending that title. Unfortunately, O'Neill was defeated by an American swimmer, her first loss in that particular race in six years. Despite the blow, O'Neill could remain proud for having won the gold for her country in the 200-meter freestyle, and also contributing to the bronze medals won by the 4x200-meter freestyle and the 4x100-meter medley teams.

Two months after the 2000 Olympics, O'Neill announced her retirement. One of her main reasons for retiring was to focus on her marriage and her husband. She had married long-time boyfriend, Cliff Fairley, in late 1998. His work as an opthamologist ended up taking him to Sydney while O'Neill remained in Brisbane to train. She felt that she had spent enough time concentrating on swimming and had achieved the goals she set.

After she announced her retirement from swimming, O'Neill dedicated herself to working for the International Olympic Committee (IOC). Her primary focus is educating athletes regarding doping issues. She is an active member of the World Anti-Doping Agency, a group that advises the IOC as well as governments and international sports organizations regarding doping regulations. She is ambassador for various companies and organizations including SAAB, Kellogg's, the Fred Hollows Foundation. She also has her own line of swimsuits that is sold in Target stores throughout Australia.

Susie O'Neill left her sport at her peak. She holds more swimming titles than any other Australian swimmer ever. She set national and world records in several events from relays to freestyle to butterfly. While she maintained her determination and focus, she also presented a positive attitude that the Australian public took to their hearts. Australians not only recognized the valuable contribution that O'Neill made to the sport of swimming but also her contribution as a representative of their country to the world. She will be remembered as she had hoped when she told the Sunday Mail, "I want to be known as one of Australia's greatest athletes."

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Famous Sports StarsSwimmingSusan O'Neill Biography - Taking To Water, New Coach Raises Stakes, Chronology, World Fastest, Australia's Best - SELECTED WRITINGS BY O'NEILL: