Busy life in quest for gold
IT’S a busy time for Libby Trickett. Her sister and a friend are due to deliver babies within the next month. Trickett and her husband Luke have moved into a new home, so they’re ‘‘trying to sort things out and finalise the things you always seem to forget about’’.
Then there’s the matter of the three-time Olympic gold medallist, who used to hold the world record in the women’s 100m freestyle, coming out of retirement to race at the London Olympics.
Under her maiden name of Libby Lenton, Trickett took home relay gold at the 2004 Athens Olympics. She wed fellow swimmer Luke Trickett in 2007 and won two more gold medals in Beijing in 2008 – including the 100m butterfly.
A couple of years later, she retired. But the allure of the pool proved too great, and now she’s preparing to travel to London in the hope of achieving victory in the 4 x 100m freestyle relay.
Her journey is documented, along with other Olympians and Paralympians, in the ABC documentary series Race to London. Libby, can you talk about what led you to retire from swimming and what drew you back?
The easiest way to explain it is when you compete at the elite level for as many years as I did, it gets very complicated. It’s not just about swimming any more. There are pressures and expectations you have to deal with. There are sponsorship obligations and media commitments.
I guess the best way I could describe how I was feeling was I was burnt out. I felt I needed time away from the sport and retirement seemed the natural way to do that. I’m not a person who does things by halves – I either do something or I don’t.
Spending time away from the sport, I got to view swimming from a different perspective and observe from a distance something I’d been intimately involved with for so many years. With that clearer view, I realised I could have a simpler, uncomplicated relationship with swimming. There are still external factors, but I now feel I manage them a lot better while still enjoying my swimming. It was a really important thing for me to go through. You’ve talked about rediscovering your love and enjoyment of the sport. Is that feeling vital to success at an elite level?
Oh, absolutely. When you love what you do, it makes everything a lot easier. Swimming’s a hard sport. You’re up at five in the morning, six days a week. You’re pushing yourself physically and mentally. When you add the fact it’s a high-profile sport it can become a very stressful environment. I started swimming because I loved it and I reached the level I reached because I was committed to it. Having that time away, it allowed me to refresh and reenergise. Was the mental challenge as tough as the physical challenge?
I thought it would only be a physical challenge. When I first made my decision, it was after a year where most of the time I did turn off the alarm and go back to sleep. When you train at an elite level, you can’t afford to do that. So getting into the mindset where you don’t give yourself the option to sleep in was tough. To be honest, the challenge of trying to become strong and fit and lean again was the biggest. I remembered how fit and strong I had been and was nowhere near it when I started training again. It tried my patience because
I’m generally a pretty impatient person. But you hadn’t let yourself go too much, had you?
I’d put on 10 kilos! (Laughs). You don’t put that on when you’re active. I certainly wasn’t as active as I should have been and I wasn’t eating as well as I should have . . . One of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned on this journey is patience. You’ve competed in all kinds of meets and events. What makes the Olympics so different?
In many ways, it’s not different – the pool is the same size, the water is exactly the same, the competitors are generally the same. What’s different is everything else. The build-up, the energy, the publicity – everything is at a level you can’t really comprehend until you experience it for the first time. It’s a little easier once you know what to expect, but it’s still such a rush to be part of an Australian Olympic team. And you can use that energy and that excitement in a positive way. But it can also be very scary and overwhelming. I think that’s what happened to me at my first Olympics. But I’m confident in where I’m at right now and the 4 x 100m freestyle relay team should be a great team to be a part of – one that could potentially medal, possibly gold.
2010. Young man uses the ruse of catching up with an old friend to arrange a weekend away so he can intrude on the prewedding celebration of a former girlfriend with whom he is still in love. Max Winkler, Uma Thurman. 9.30pm, Go!
M. 2008. Able to teleport themselves anywhere in the world (including bank vaults) in the blink of an eye, jumpers would have it made, were it not for vengeful paladins who pursue them. Bogus sci-fi opus intrigues with the idea of jumping, but fails to soar. Hayden Christensen. 9.30pm, SBS TWO
AV. 2008. Big ticket Russian drama about one of the country’s greatest seamen, who fought against the Red Army in the Russian Revolution, is a sweeping, romantic epic. Admiral Konstantin Khabensky spends as much time mooning over the lovely Elizaveta Boyarskaya as he does fighting the Reds, but comes to the fore in some key battle scenes.
Libby Trickett beats a time trial in Melbourne this year.