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Celebrity Spotlight: Nicole Livingstone
Get Ahead Kids - Vol. 4, No. 6 - November/December 2012

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What are your career highlights and why?

Definitely my longevity, but if I had to name one race, then it would be the Olympics in 1992. I was 21 years old and at the absolute peak of my career. I swam a personal best and won an Olympic bronze in the 200m backstroke. This time stood as an Australian record for the next 16 years.

What is your advice for aspiring swimmers?

Love what you do, surround yourself with like-minded people that are supportive and positive. Don't spend too much time with whinging or negative people, its contagious!

Why do you think it is important for kids to learn to swim?

Out of all the choices kids have to participate in sport, swimming must be one. It's not about sport it's about a life long survival skill; it may just save your child's
life if they ever find themselves in trouble.

Please tell us about your family.

I have 3 children, Ella and Josh who are 10 year old twins and Robinson who is 5 years old. I also have a wonderful husband Marty, with whom I am proud to be on this journey.

What are your hobbies?

Not a lot of time for hobbies! I like to go to the footy and watch Melbourne Storm (Rugby League) and I also watch a lot of baseball; my husband and all the kids play, I also played a couple of years ago and might return to it soon! I also like to stay fit, so I swim, run and go to the gym regularly. I think it is important for my kids to know that exercise is also a part of adult life.

What is your favourite holiday destination and why?

We go to Queensland a lot, but we are going overseas for the first time as a family to Fiji late this year. I'm sure the kids are going to have a ball!

How did you first get involved in swimming?

We grew up near the beach and mum and dad wanted us to be able to swim to survive, it evolved from there. My older brother and sister did swim club and I tagged along.

When you were a competitive swimmer, what helped you stay focused and motivated?

Knowing that I was good at it, I am really lucky to have found what I am gifted at. Lots of people spend their lives searching for that one thing that they can excel in and I, thanks to my mum and dad found it! I knew my time was limited in swimming, I had a window of 12 years on the Australian Swimming team and I wanted to make sure I gave it everything I had.

Please tell us about your role at the London Olympic Games.

I was commentating for Olympic Broadcast Services, who are the International Olympic Committee's broadcast partner. I got to commentate with Bruce McAvaney, which was a huge thrill. We had an overall focus, so not concentrating on the Aussie, we commentated on the great racing, and there was plenty of that!

Please tell us about your involvement with Ovarian Cancer Australia.

I am a co-founder of the organisation and now Patron. I wish I didn't have to be involved, I wish Ovarian Cancer didn't exist! My mum and my Aunty both died from it and I have a gene that predisposes me to it. It affects around 2000 Australian women each year with 1200 new diagnoses and 800 women losing their battle, each and every year. There is no detection test, a pap smear doesn't test for Ovarian Cancer, and so awareness is our best defense.

What are your top tips to help get kids strong and confident in the water?

  1. The more often your kids swim, the better they'll get.
    Make sure that they are in the right level at swimming lessons; ask for an assessment before you start.

  2. Cap and goggles are a must, it keeps hair out of their eyes, water out of their ears & lets them see where they are going.

  3. Encourage them to not hold on to their breath, they need to blow out the bubbles (air) & take more in during their breath taking.

  4. Kids & adults often hold onto their breath & keep adding more air in their lungs & that's often why they feel puffed, or panic.

  5. Practice technique in the mirror at home. Of course, I'm talking about the arm portion! Get them to look in the mirror & practice those nice straight arms that are going up & over, or if they are more advanced, then the bent elbow over arm & the nice straight backstroke arms! My coach used to encourage this even when I was at Olympic level!

  6. NEVER take your eyes of your child around water, things happen quickly & they are often silent. Coffee or chatting can wait, accidents in water won't.

About Nicole Livingstone

Nicole began her swimming career at 14, and she will go down in history as one of Australia's most successful female backstrokers.

With an international career spanning 12 years, Nicole's achievements include a silver medal and 2 bronze medals from 3 Olympic appearances in addition to 6 gold, 2 silver and a bronze from 3 Commonwealth Games. Nicole has also competed in 6 Pan Pacific Championships, winning 4 gold, 2 silver and a bronze medal. She also broke a world record in the 200m backstroke (short course) in 1992.

Nicole placed her name in the record books by starting the longest winning sequence of any Australian swimmer in history at the national titles winning ten consecutive 100m backstroke titles between 1987 and 1996.

Nicole has received numerous awards during her career outside of the pool including the Medal of the Order of Australia in 1997; the Australian Sports Medal in 2000 and in 2006 was inducted into the Victorian Women's Honour Roll.
Nicole juggles many commitments, including being a mother of 3, an expert commentator and host on Channel Ten's sports channel and also co-hosting Thursday Night Live.

Nicole helped found Ovarian Cancer Australia with her sister Karen Livingstone after their mother passed away from the illness. She is now the Patron of the organisation.

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