Andrew Lauterstein Reveals The ‘Fun Formula’ Behind His Surprise Return For The Australian Champs

Lauto and Bayside team
BACK ON DECK: Beijing Olympic butterfly bronze medallist Andrew Lauterstein (right) with Rio Olympian Josh Beaver (left) and members of Victoria's Bayside Swim Team. Photo Courtesy: Bayside Swimming.

Celebrated 2008 Olympic triple medallist Andrew Lauterstein will make a surprise return to the Australian Swimming Championships on the Gold Coast in April for the first time in nine years after a stunning victory in the 50 metres freestyle at the Victorian State Championships on Sunday.

With Lauterstein declaring after the win: “I’m just back having some fun swimming again..I’m just enjoying it… with no pressure and no expectations….I’m loving it.

“With success I put a lot more pressure on myself (back in the day) and all of a sudden it becomes your job and you think you have to approach it a little bit differently and that enjoyment goes away from what you are doing.

“Swimming was always something I (originally) did because I enjoyed it and that almost becomes how it is now that I have a job; I can just do it for fun and the fun part is training a little bit and racing and having a good time… it’s a pretty nice change actually.”

And “just for the fun of it” the now 33-year-old’s rejuvenated new fun formula, certainly worked with an eye-catching, clear cut Victorian State title win in a “near pb time” of 22.77 – racing 70 other entrants in the Timed Final format – some as young as 15!

It came after his double victory in the 50m freestyle and 50m butterfly at the Victorian State Sprint Championships in January and has set up his return for the first time in nine years to the Australian Championship stage at the Gold Coast Aquatic Centre from April 14-18.

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BEIJING BRONZE: Andrew Lauterstein’s proud pose with a treasured bronze medal in the 100m butterfly in 2008. Photo Courtesy: Swimming Australia

Lauterstein, who won three medals at the Beijing Games, including individual bronze in the controversial 100m butterfly final behind Michael Phelps and Milorad Cavic and two relay medals, retired at the conclusion of the 2012 Olympic Trials – the last time he swam at an Australian Championship.

 

His return to swimming and racing came after he and business partner and 1992 and 1996 Olympian Toby Haenen were successful in winning the tender to run the aquatics program at Melbourne’s Mentone Grammar School – a program that includes coaching the school swim team, the Bayside Aquatics club team and the learn to swim.

“I’ve spent a bit more time around the pool coaching at Mentone and every now and then I’d jump in and have a bit of a swim and I actually (started to feel ok) so I thought why don’t I do Victorian State Sprint Championships?” said Lauterstein, who is the co-owner and director with Haenen, the founder of the Engine swim wear company.

“I (actually) won the 50m freestyle and the 50m butterfly for 19 years and over at the State Sprint Championships and really enjoyed the preparation, getting nervous again, putting on a (race) suit and having a swim.

“And so I thought I may as well do State Championships; I did a little bit of training maybe two sessions a week of around 30 minutes or 45 minutes and then jumped in and had another swim in the 50 freestyle.

“I’m just enjoying it with no pressure, not expectations.

“I guess I’m relatively strong and as soon as I finished swimming in 2021 I got stuck into Crossfit and I’ve remained athletic ever since and been able to transfer that power into the pool.

“I’ve done lots of swimming over the years, so it’s not like a foreign skill to me; it’s like applying that new power I’ve got into the water and just having fun pretty much.”

And Lauterstein’s performance certainly turned more than a few heads at the Melbourne Sports And Aquatic Centre, especially amongst the coaches.

“A couple of coaches have caught onto the idea that there is no reason why people should not be swimming longer,” said Lauterstein, who is hoping maybe his performances will inspire swimmers of all ages, and many to keep swimming and not give it away.

“I’m racing 19, 20, 21, 22 year olds but hardly anyone else under 30 say – there is a massive drop off of people in swimming.

“I always like to compare swimming to surf lifesaving competition in Australia.

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CROSSFIT SWIM TEAM: Andrew Lauterstein (left) and his Cross Fit brothers and Australian open water swimming star Rhys Maidstone (right). Photo Courtesy: Andrew Lauterstein.

“They have guys who are running around in Iron Man races making up the numbers just having a good time and it’s a matter of going out and trying to get rid of that expectation of every time you step up behind the blocks of doing a PB.

“Instead of just going out to execute and having a good time with it.

“It’s nice to think I may be setting an example for other people instead of doing nine sessions a week; let’s make it three; we’ll do a bit of gym and drop back to doing just 50s and 100s and do it for fun; there has to be something to it that’s for sure.”

But digging a little deeper, Lauterstein’s State Championship preparation certainly wasn’t out of any text book.

It started at the annual for Portsea Swim Classic (ocean swim) on January 23, which doubled as his “Bucks Party” as he prepares to marry fiancé Evie in Melbourne on March 13 and the exciting news of the arrival of the couple’s first child in August.

“The Portsea weekend took me a week to recover from so I actually didn’t swim for week and then there was another Covid lockdown for three days,” said Lauterstein.

“I then did another ocean swim from Seaford to Frankston which was about 6km; I swam in the pool on Thursday and Friday, went into the Melbourne Sports And Aquatic Centre on Saturday and raced on Sunday.”

Lauto and friends

MENTONE MEN: Andrew Lauterstein with Jorden Merrilees and Josh Beaver. Photo Courtesy: Andrew Lauterstein.

Asked where to from here in the lead up to the Australian Championships ? Lauterstein didn’t hesitate when he said: “A bit of consistency would be nice, but maybe just three sessions a week, (together) with three gym sessions.

“I’ll be up on the Gold Coast for work at Age Nationals and then Open Nationals anyway so I thought I may as well have a race…it will be fun to go back.

 

 

“With our up coming wedding and the exciting news with the baby on the way I guess you could say there’s a bit going on, but it’s all very exciting and I can’t wait,” said Lauterstein, who also paid tribute to one of his former coaches, Grant “Stolly” Stoelwinder, who is now in full-time care in WA, gradually deteriorating in his struggle with neurological degenerative dementia.

“Stolly was a huge influence on my career…he looked after me in Beijing and then off the back of Beijing I trained under him (in Sydney) for three years,” recalled Lauterstein.

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FUN TIMES: Andrew Lauterstein back having fun in the pool. Photo Courtesy: Swimming Australia.

“He was not only one of the best coaches I’ve ever had but he was a really good friend as well outside the pool.

“We always had a good time; that was his specialty, the friendships he formed with his athletes.

“If you speak to the likes of Eamon Sullivan or Libby Trickett about

‘Stolly’ they will tell you he was one of those coaches that even with life after swimming you still keep in touch with.

“Very sad to hear about his ill-health and let’s just hope he’s getting some good care in WA and maybe he’ll get a laugh about my swims at Victorian States, and put a smile on his face, that would be nice.”

Lauterstein’s 22.77 in the 50m freestyle ranks him in the Australian Top Ten times swum in the 2020-21 season.

 

1 comment

  1. avatar
    Verram

    He can add some spice to the 100 butterfly if he can get back to his best times

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