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Emily Seebohm, ambassador in the pool

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Team USA won in men's 4x100m medley relay

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Emily Seebohm is multiple Olympic and world champion, but C-Bomb as she is known, made headlines not only by her results. She undertook on a much more important issue. Due to her own experiences and positive energy she tries to give strength and faith to those girls and women suffering from the same disease: she became the Ambassador of Endometriosis Australia.

Until the age of 10 nobody thought that Emily could be Olympic and world champion swimmer. Since her mother worked as a learn-to-swim trainer, she spent almost all of her childhood around swimming-pools, but she used every trick at her disposal to avoid going: hided under the bed or in the closet, faked illness or started to cry. Then at the age of 10 she was elevated to elite coach Matt Brown’s squad and her love of racing changed her attitude. However, earlier it was not easy to get away with things, she remained a crier, she often went to the small pool to hug her mother a bit and then seeing her coach’s angry face she walked back to do her job in the big pool.

It’s surprisingly common for future champions of Australia to make unpromising starts to their swimming careers. Ian Thorpe was allergic to chlorine as a child, while Susie O’Neill had a panic attack in the middle of her first race as a child. However, several Olympic and world champion titles mean that true talent break through even winning itself.  

Seebohm broke into the swimming world at the age of 14 by winning the 100 m backstroke at one of the hardest national championships in Australia. Then the following year she became world champion as member of the Australian team in the 4x100 m medley relay. At the age of 16 she became world record holder, even for only one day, when she excelled in the 50 m backstroke semi-final at the Australian championship. She did not start in the final in order to focus on the Olympic event, the 100 m backstroke where she became the first Australian women to break the 1-minute barrier in the event. In Beijing Olympics she won gold medal in the 4x100 m medley relay, her teammates were 6-7 years older than her. Several silver and bronze medals in world championships, silver in the 100 m backstroke and another victory in the relay in London Olympics, the year of 2015 was finally hers. In Kazan she won both in the 100 m and 200 m backstroke and became world champion with the 4x100 m freestyle relay as well.

Before the Rio Olympic Games she realised that there was something wrong with her and due to the cramps, back pain and gynaecological problems her gynaecologist suggested that she had endometriosis, but the diagnose could be determined only through surgery.

(Endometriosis is a gynaecological disease, it is estimated to occur in roughly 6–10% of women. The main symptoms are pelvic pain and infertility. )

In an Olympic year there was no way that a surgery was going to happen. Seebohm decided to deal with it. It was more of a mental battle than a physical one.

’I didn’t say anything at the time because I didn’t want anyone to say that my swimming was affected by endometriosis. I didn’t want to have a reason why I couldn’t swim well at the Olympics before I had even swum. I don’t think the endo can be blamed for how I swim, ever’ – she said in an interview for The Guardian in March.

According to her the disease did not have any impact on her swim, but it is true that Emily fell short of the mark in Rio Olympics after her excellent world championships performance a year before. She missed the podium in the 100 m and failing to make the final in the 200 m. However, she could find some consolation getting silver medal in the 4x100m medley relay.

’Sometimes I think, wow, I must be a really strong person to achieve what I’ve achieved in life while having endo. Every day is a battle but if I can continue swimming like I’ve swum in the past, then I’ll be very proud when my swimming’s all done.’

Unfortunately for Emily Hungarian fans will probably support her only in her ambassador’s tasks, since their idols, Katinka Hosszú expectedly starts at the same events as Seebohm.

 

Emily Seebohm:

Born: 5th June 1992, Adelaide

Best results:

Olympics: 2 gold (4x100 m medley relay in Beijing, 4x100 m freestyle relay in London), 3 silver (100 m backstroke and 4x100m medley relay in London, 4x100 m medley relay in Rio)

world championships (long course): 4 gold (4x100 m medley relay in Melbourne, 100 m and 200 m backstroke and 4x100 m freestyle relay in Kazan), plus 4 silver and 2 bronze medals