FLASHBACK: Swimmer Lisa Curry smashing out her butterfly leg of the 200m IM.
FLASHBACK: Swimmer Lisa Curry smashing out her butterfly leg of the 200m IM. FILE PHOTO

Lisa Curry: 'How 1982 catapulted my career'

EVERY night for months on end leading up to the 1982 Brisbane Commonwealth Games, Lisa Curry would stare at a handwritten note taped on her bedroom wall.

There were no inspirational quotes, no gaining redemption words or messages of support, just a time: 2.16 minutes.

Despite being only 20, Curry was already a veteran in '80s swimming circles, and the world was at her feet.

Little did she know then, her phenomenal Games would propel her career another decade.


Swimmer Lisa Curry-Kenny. 2
Swimmer Lisa Curry-Kenny. 2 Advertiser Library

Her three golds - 100-metre butterfly, and the 200m and 400m individual medley and a bronze in 100-metre freestyle - could have seen her retire and rest on her laurels.

Speaking to the Sunshine Coast Daily, Curry said it was her pet event, and the 200m IM was the most important one to claim.

"I looked back and thought 'wow', I had actually swum what I'd planned to do," Curry said after touching the wall.

"I was very goal orientated. So I read that little note every night, 2.16.


Swimmer Lisa Curry-Kenny. 6 LIB FILE: P Swimming CURRY, Lisa
Swimmer Lisa Curry-Kenny. 6 LIB FILE: P Swimming CURRY, Lisa Advertiser Library

"It was five seconds faster than I'd ever done. Maybe I should have gone for 2.14."

Two things stand out from Curry's 1982 Games that no other international event has replicated.

The first being in her home town, the second being the place where she claimed her first big win.

She had her work cut out throughout, a stacked program of 12 races.


Swimmer Lisa Curry-Kenny. 5
Swimmer Lisa Curry-Kenny. 5 Advertiser Library

"I always believed I wasn't a naturally talented athlete, and had to work really hard," she said.

"I did so many kilometres going in. One of the hardest races is the 400m IM, to do that event takes so much work.

"Back then 20 was considered old and it wasn't unusual to retire after a Games.

"But after that Games it felt like my career had just started."


Swimmer Lisa Curry-Kenny. 3
Swimmer Lisa Curry-Kenny. 3 Advertiser Library

Curry said the acknowledgement of being named Australia's flag bearer by her peers is something she'll take to the grave.

It was a Games where she dined with the Queen but also the Games that launched her into swimming royalty.

Lisa Curry's career

  • Winner of 15 gold, seven silver and eight bronze international medals
  • Only Australian swimmer to have held Commonwealth and Australian records in three strokes
  • Represented Australia from 1977 to 1992 Won 15 national long course open titles and competed in two World Championships
  • Competed in three Commonwealth Games and three Olympics
  • Seven-time gold medallist at Comm Games level
  • Post retirement she took up other sporting pursuits, competing in surf boat rowing competitions and championship outrigger canoe events
  • Her team won the Queensland Surf Life Saving Championship in 1996, and the World Championship Outrigger Canoe event in 1997.
  • Named a Member of the Order of British Empire in 1982 and awarded Medal of the Order of Australia in 1994