Swimming

Emily Seebohm to be "braver" for herself as she reveals eating disorder

Australia's two-time Olympic gold medallist admits to purging food for over two years having been told "the only way I can swim faster is by losing weight".

By Rory Jiwani ·

New Year, new start.

Australia's two-time Olympic swimming gold medallist Emily Seebohm saw in 2021 by revealing she has been dealing with an eating disorder for over two years.

The former 100m and 200m backstroke world champion has endured a difficult few years, undergoing surgery for endometriosis in 2017 before a well-publicised break-up with team-mate Mitch Larkin the following year.

Seebohm then failed to qualify for the 2019 Gwangju World Championships, prompting her to leave her training base in Brisbane to work under Michael Bohl at Griffith University on the Gold Coast.

The 28-year-old swam for Energy Standard in the 2020 International Swim League in Budapest, but missed last month's Queensland State Championships.

In an Instagram post, Seebohm showed off a butterfly tattoo on her wrist in recognition of the Butterfly Foundation which helps people with eating disorders, and hopes her admission "can help someone who could be feeling the same".

She wrote, "For over 2 years I’ve been dealing with an Eating disorder. I’ve binged, purged and taken laxatives. I’ve counted calories, skipped meals and constantly weighted (sic) myself. I’ve been embarrassed to be in my togs.

"I have judged my body every time I have been in front of a mirror. I’ve been told that the only way I can swim faster is by losing weight and I have believed it.

"This year I’m going to be braver for myself. To give my body the love it deserves and to start I needed to be honest to everyone including myself." - Emily Seebohm on Instagram

In 2017, Seebohm won Australia's only gold medal at the World Championships in Budapest as she retained her 200m backstroke title.

That was a year after her third Olympic Games in Rio where she won silver in the women's 4x100m medley relay to take her Olympic medal tally to five.

Four of those have come in relays, including 4x100m medley relay gold at Beijing 2008 and 4x100m freestyle relay gold at London 2012.

Her sole individual Olympic medal is a silver in the London 2012 100m backstroke behind Missy Franklin.

In the past year, she has been overtaken by Kaylee McKeown as Australia's top woman backstroker.

McKeown, who won four medals at the 2018 Buenos Aires Youth Olympic Games including 50m backstroke gold, claimed silver in the 200m backstroke at the 2019 World Championships.

The 19-year-old swam the second fastest 100m backstroke in history at December's Queensland State Championships, and posted world-class times in the 200m and 400m individual medley.

Seebohm will need to be close to her best if she is to compete at a fourth Games in Tokyo with the Australian Olympic Trials taking place in Adelaide from 12-17 June.