Susan O’Neill (AUS)
Honor Swimmer (2006)
FOR THE RECORD: 1992 OLYMPIC GAMES: bronze (200m butterfly); 1996 OLYMPIC GAMES: gold (200m butterfly), silver (4x100m medley relay); bronze (4x200m freestyle relay); 2000 OLYMPIC GAMES: gold (200m freestyle), silver (200m butterfly, 4x200m freestyle relay, 4x100m medley relay); FOUR WORLD RECORDS: 200m butterfly (1-50m, 3-25m); 1993 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS (25m): gold (100m butterfly), silver (200m freestyle, 200m butterfly, 4x200m freestyle), bronze (4x100m medley); 1994 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS: bronze (100m, 200m butterfly); 1995 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS (25m): gold (200m butterfly, 4x100m medley), silver (200m freestyle, 100m butterfly), bronze (4x200m freestyle); 1998 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS: gold (200m butterfly), silver (4x100m medley), bronze (4x100m freestyle, 4x200m freestyle); 1990 COMMONWEALTH GAMES: silver (100m butterfly); 1994 COMMONWEALTH GAMES: gold (200m butterfly, 200m freestyle, 4x200m freestyle); silver (100m butterfly); 1998 COMMONWEALTH GAMES: gold (200m freestyle, 200m butterfly, 400m freestyle, 4x200m freestyle, silver (100m butterfly); 1999 PAN PACIFIC CHAMPIONSHIPS: gold (200m freestyle, 200m butterfly), silver (100m butterfly); 35 NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS.
Just as fellow Australian Dawn Fraser was known in 1956 as the woman who broke Willy den Ouden’s (NED) 20 year old, 100m freestyle world record, so is Susie O’Neill known as the woman who broke Mary T. Meagher’s (USA) 19 year old, 200m butterfly world record. Susie broke the record at the 2000 Australian Olympic Trials. At the 2000 Sydney Games, she tried to equal the gold medal swim she had in this event at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games, but won the silver medal behind Misty Hyman (USA). After the water settled, Susie still maintained a hold on the world record and held it for another two years. Being the competitor she was, she won the 200m freestyle gold medal in Sydney.
Having never lost a butterfly race between Olympic Games (1996-2000), she took on Mary T’s nickname of Madame Butterfly. Could there be two Madame Butterflies? Susie and Mary T. were from two different eras, two different times, each distinct just as when Eva Szekeley of Hungary, the first Madame Butterfly, received her nickname in 1952.
Susie has 35 Australian Championships to her name, breaking Hall of Famer Sir Frank Beaurepaire’s long standing record from 100 years earlier. Her outstanding Commonwealth Games performance gives her the most medals won by a female swimmer (ten gold, five silver) in Commonwealth history. Six of the gold medals were won at one Commonwealth Games (1998 Kuala Lumpur), a record equaled only by swimmer Ian Thorpe.