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Swimming wasn’t stressful – only life after it, says Michael Klim

Michael Klim tells Kate that surfing in Bali is a big part of his life now. Photo: Christopher Pearce Dannii Minogue poses for a selfie with Stella Klim, Michael and Lindy Klim’s daughter, at the Logies in May. Photo: Scott Barbour
Nanjing Night Net

Michael Klim has won six gold medals across  the 1996, 2000 and 2004 Olympics. The Polish-born Australian swimmer retired from swimming due to injury in 2007 and has since focused on building his skincare range, Milk & Co. Klim, 38, chats to Kate Waterhouse about his life outside the pool; continuing to work on his business with his estranged wife, Lindy Klim; and his new girlfriend, fashion designer Desiree Deravi.

What are you up to at the moment? It’s a pretty exciting time for me…Milk has been going for about eight years and it has been a really successful year from an export point of view. We’ve got about 13 different markets altogether now from US, Scandinavia, Korea, China, Singapore and Hong Kong. We changed the name of the men’s range; it’s now Klim by Milk & Co, with new packaging and a new campaign … We launched a fragrance as well, in September. [I’m also] obviously putting my mind and my efforts with being with the kids as much as possible.

You’re based in Bali but where is home for you? Home is where the kids are … Dad has got an investment property in Melbourne that I rent off him at the moment. So [I’m] between Melbourne and Bali, half and half.

Do you run the business from Bali or how does it work? I’ve built a pretty good team … of people that have been in the industry and who [are] a lot smarter than I am. I keep doing what I’m doing in sales, but the team is capable of running itself.  I [do] love getting back into the office [to] get the morale up.

Did you ever think when you were younger that you would be creating skincare? Not at all. I mean the funny thing is I was approached by a couple of other skincare brands to be their ambassador around 2006 … I thought, “There must be something in there if other brands [are doing it]” so I said “I’ll just try my own”.

How did you originally get into skincare? Oh, sort of by accident, initially … When you’re swimming outdoors in chlorinated pools, your skin is always dry and flaky, and also the Aussie climate [doesn’t help]. There was a bit of an opportunity eight years ago as the men’s skincare market was growing quite a lot and there wasn’t anything out there in the market that was designed by blokes for blokes.

With so many brands on the market, what do you think sets your range apart from others? High in quality, all natural, made in Australia, so the affinity with Australian products overseas is huge, especially in Scandinavia and South Korea.

How has your life in the pool helped you with what you do today? I had no idea about skincare, so I asked a lot of people a lot of questions and found mentors and saw where they had made mistakes and I could learn from them … Ultimately, like in swimming, I had a crack [and] decided, “Well, I’ll put my money into it and stand behind it” … I just wanted to see it through and make sure it’s a success.

You had so much success in the pool. What do you feel was your biggest achievement? Oh, it’s hard to go past the men’s 4×100-metre freestyle relay in Sydney [Olympics 2000]. We were the underdogs and the Americans had never been beaten … To have Ian Thorpe going over the top of Gary Hall and winning by less than point one of a second on home soil, it was just phenomenal.

Was there ever a difficult transition to life after sport?  Yes, definitely. It’s your identity, always, even to this day, like you walk down the street and people yell out, “Oh there is that swimming guy” … So you want to move on with life and progress, but your identity is always going to be that … There is a big void, the five or six hours a day, and it’s taken out … When I was swimming I never got stressed. I only saw a sport psychologist once I retired, not when I was swimming!

What did it teach you when you retired?  My comeback [to London in 2012] was probably more rewarding because I had no expectation with the crowd … it was all about the journey and showing the kids that you actually have to enjoy [things] to get something out in life.

Will your children follow in your footsteps? At the moment, after Stella’s [Klim’s 10-year-old daughter] red carpet performance at the Logies [[n May], I would say she wants to be famous. And Rocco is very much into tennis and swims a bit as well, but loves his tennis. Frankie [is] a self-taught swimmer, she doesn’t want any lessons.

Earlier this year you announced that you and Lindy have separated … How are you both coping?  It’s still fairly fresh, but we did it because we wanted to be happy … [We have] moved on, and I think we’re mature enough that we consider to make sure that the business is in the right hands and kids are looked after.

Do you still work together?  Lindy is still part of the business, she is a shareholder and so has an involvement. Obviously, my focus has been with the men’s range lately, and Lindy’s obviously focused more on the women’s and babies, but we still cross paths, and we obviously raise the kids … So, at the moment, business as usual. I mean, obviously we put a lot of time and effort into the business, so it would be silly to undo all that.

How did you and Desiree meet? We met in Bali through mutual friends.

What’s your idea of an ideal date?  I’m not sure if I really have an ideal date; sometimes the best dates are the least expected. With my “raging” days done and dusted, I really enjoy exploring and trying out some of Australia’s best eateries over a nice glass of red. With three kids who are all early risers, it’s a good night when I can be tucked away before midnight.

What do you do for fun? Health and fitness is a big part … With kids, trying to fit in a session in the gym is kind of a luxury. So I try and exercise and look after myself physically. It’s always going to be part of my routine. Since I moved to Bali, surfing has become definitely a big part of it.

You don’t keep up the swimming training you used to do? No. It’s just impossible. I was swimming twice a day and in the gym every second day as well. I was doing maybe 25 hours of exercise a week and now, if I get four or five a week, I’m lucky … If I don’t exercise regularly, I get really grumpy. People can send me out the door or I send myself out the door. [Exercise] is such a big part of our lives, sort of gives you that structure as well.

Where do you see yourself in five years?  Sitting on the beach in Bali, but that’s already happening now … Stella will be 15, so I’ll probably be shooting away some boys from the front door!Katewaterhouse南京夜网BITE SIZE

WE WENT TO  Hunter Gatherer, north Sydney

WE ATE  Poached New Zealand hake, Rodriguez chorizo, potato, mussel broth with saffron; Rangers Valley inside skirt steak, cafe de Paris  butter, cress; green beans, romesco sauce, Charred Camden corn, paprika and lime butter.

WE DRANK Sparkling mineral water

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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