Lately, a ‘Family by JW’ program was held at the JW Marriott Phuket Resort & Spa to celebrate an outstanding array of activities which included a once-in-a-lifetime swimming Master Class with Stephanie Rice, one of the best-known competitive swimmers in the world. With her stunning performance in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, she won three gold medals and was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia.
What is a typical day like in Australia?
A typical day in Australia is waking up around 7 a.m., enjoying a healthy breakfast, exercise, meditation and then usually I get into some office work. Then spending good quality time with my family in the afternoon and the evening – make a healthy dinner together, that’s a typical day for me.
Are you excited to be invited to teach the young children @ Family by JW Campus event?
Yes, I’m really excited to teach the children here at JW Marriott Phuket. It’s such a rewarding experience for me to do a Master Class with the kids and to share my swimming skills and then pass them onto the next generation. Especially to do it at such a beautiful hotel, it’s been so special.
What age were you when you started swimming?
I started swimming at around six months old. I learned to swim as a baby and progressed all the way through. Then I started doing squad training around the age of seven or eight and started taking it seriously at 13, when I was really committed to be an Olympic swimmer.
How did you become a professional swimmer?
To be a professional swimmer, an Olympic swimmer, it requires a lot of dedication, consistent swimming. We trained almost 50 weeks over a 52-week year which is a lot of hours. But I’ve always loved it and have had such a passion for it and really wanted to be an Olympian, so I worked very hard.
Who is your favourite sports hero?
When I was growing up, I always looked up to and admired Suzy O’ Neal. She’s an Australian swimmer and has won Olympic gold medals. I wanted to be able to go to the Olympics and win medals just like her. Besides swimming, I really like what she was doing in the media and she had these amazing opportunities, so I really wanted to be like her.
What is your favourite sports quote?
When it comes to quotes, I’ve always liked things that are quite mindful. So one of my favorite quotes is ‘Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve which is Napoleon Hill’s quote. That’s all about whatever you believe in your mind, if you believe it, totally you can do it. So you have to believe in your mind first.
Who do you wish to watch you perform?
When I was at the Beijing Olympics, I just wanted my family there. They’re the ones who have seen me train day after day, year after year. They understand the highs and the lows and they were fully committed, so I was really fortunate to have all of my family there watching me in Beijing. And of course my coach, who was someone that I really felt so blessed to have as part of my life. So yes, my coach and my family.
What skills or talents are essential to being a successful swimmer?
To be a successful swimmer, dedication and consistency are very important. Doing things you sometimes don’t want to do, like waking up early in the morning for training or when you’re tired from school going to training in the afternoon, you have to definitely be consistent and be dedicated. You also need to have a passion for something inside you that you really want to achieve. So those two things are really important.
What is your favourite food to eat the night before a big competition?
I always really want something quite simple, rice with a little bit of meat or tuna or something like that with some vegetables. Not a lot of sauces nor spices since I didn’t want to have anything to upset my system. So, something really plain the night before and I always make sure I have a good breakfast on the day of the competition.
What mental tools do you use under pressure?
When it comes to sports and performance and pressure, not a lot of people are able to handle the mental pressure that goes along with performance and expectation. So I think it’s really important to believe in yourself, believe in your ability to do well – that usually comes from training really hard. And making sure you have a really good supports around you that are going to be proud of you and happy for you. Regardless of the outcome, that definitely takes a bit of pressure off.
What do you do to keep fit?
I am a vegan, so I don’t need any meat or dairy products and that definitely helps me stay healthy. I eat a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables. I also try to eat local food. I get to enjoy some of the beautiful things like flowers and amazing produce and plants that come especially from Thailand which is really nice. I exercise almost every day, meditate every morning. Having mindfulness, exercise and the right kind of food is really great.
If you could play another sport what would it be?
When I was growing up, I really liked hockey, also I was picked for the Junior Olympic cycling team so I did a lot of sports. I don’t think I would have wanted to have done any other sport because I did a lot when I was a kid. And I chose something which was my favourite, so I wouldn’t have done anything else. But I really enjoy having the opportunity to play both hockey with a team and then cycling as well.
What three words would you share with young kids who would like to be professional swimmers?
So three words that I’d like to share with other kids that are also hoping to become an Olympian or an athlete at the professional level would be do something that you’re passionate about. Because you need to have an inner passion to help you gone through the harder days, when you’re tired or when something goes wrong. Definitely having a passion to believe in yourself, mentally have the ability and know that you’ve got the confidence to do well. And having a really good support system around you whether your family, friends or coaches. Pick your support system that will support you regardless, that’s really important.
Anything else that you would like to say to your fans?
I’m just so grateful to be here in Thailand and to stay at the JW Marriott here in Phuket, it’s so beautiful. Thank you so much for welcoming me and I hope there’ll be some amazing Thai swimmers at the Olympics in the future.