As part of our LIFE section this month, we spoke to the incredibly talented Australian swimming legend Michael Klim to discuss his recent announcement of retirement from the competitive swimming pool, fatherhood and the launch of his new lifestyle brand Milk. As you will read, theres so much more to this world champion than gold medals and world records..
Hi Michael, well 2012 has been an interesting year for you! Hanging up your swimming goggles and immersing yourself into a new career as a business entrepreneur. Tell us how it feels to be on this new journey?
It certainly was an interesting year trying to balance swimming, work and family life, luckily I was retired already once before so in a way I knew what to expect. I am really excited about my immediate future working on expanding my new brand both domestically and internationally.
You’ve enjoyed a long and distinguished position on the Australian swimming team, winning numerous gold medals in both Olympic and World Championship events and breaking a few world records along the way. How did you know it was ‘your time’ to retire earlier this year?
Well this latest project of attempting to get on the London Olympic team was certainly a one off. I always knew I was going to retire immediately after the trials. I was fortunate in that my wife Lindy allowed me to devote 18 months to the preparations and as a family, we sacrificed a lot. With my family and the business in mind, ultimately the decision was an easy one.
With such an amazing career now behind you, how’s life beyond the pool? Have you found it challenging to adjust to life on dry land or do you still find time to swim occasionally?
I still try and swim every now and then; fitness was such a big part of my life and still is even though I’m not swimming professionally. I’ve always believed in the importance of a balanced lifestyle and definitely live by the saying ‘healthy body, equals healthy mind’.
Can you give any tips to our future Australian athletes on perseverance and success?
We have some great new talent in Australian sport. The most important tip I’d give is to always be passionate about the representing our country. It’s also important to ride the ups and downs; they are all part of the journey. Staying motivated through the good and the bad is key to your success.
What was the most memorable part of your swimming career? What are you going to take away from it all?
Definitely the 4 x100 free relay (I think most people will remember the air guitar moment?)
From this, and my swimming career as a whole I’ve learnt the importance of teamwork, having a sense of purpose, knowing your strength and weaknesses and setting goals for success.
In 2006 you married your Balinese Princess Lindy, six years later and you’ve co-developed the skincare brand MILK. Was this something you wanted to create together for some time?
When I first retired from swimming I knew I wanted to work in either skincare or fashion. My wife and I did a bit of research and found that there was a real need for skincare specially formulated for men. After launching in 2008 with Milk Skincare, my wife Lindy was pregnant to our second child and in a similar fashion we realised a gap in the market for all-natural skincare for infants – a year later, Milk Baby was born. We have now developed the two ranges into a diversified lifestyle brand – Milk & Co that boasts an amazing repertoire of products including protein snacks and to be released soon, apparel.
So now that the swimming pool is only for pleasure rather than competing, what does it feel like to be a business entrepreneur? Is it a huge contrast to being a professional athlete?
It’s amazing how many similarities there are between swimming and business. The major difference in sport is that at the end of the day I had to execute the performance whereas in business it’s much more of a collective effort – this can be just as rewarding.
We hear the brand is targeted towards men?! So we’re thinking maybe there’s some hope still for our typical lazy Aussie man!
There certainly is! Our brand is based around making skincare, and life for that matter easier for guys. Where possible, we’ve made our products multi purpose. We try to be environmentally friendly where possible also and make sure that using our products is an enjoyable part of the day.
Your three kids Stella, Frankie and Rocco must be happy to have such a cool dad! Can we assume parenthood is your favourite role out of them all?
That goes without question. They’re definitely my number one priority. It certainly does have its moments. For me, it’s a matter of balancing all aspects of my life and separating the two when I need to. For example, when I’m home I try to switch off my phone and focus on enjoying time with Lindy and the kids.
Michael you’ve had such a successful career with swimming, your role as a father and now as a business entrepreneur – what’s your secret to success?
I really don’t have a secret! I think I’ve done well in trying to apply the things I’ve learnt throughout my life and through swimming.