After two months of training, Osborne was within a few hundredths of her target time but the real magic happened at the race. “I clearly remember when the starter's gun went off, I was awash with the feeling of coming home. I realized how much I missed it. I felt quite emotional as I heard the ‘beep’ and the splash of the water, and it reignited my passion for swimming.”
Osborne continued to swim with a local group as well as alone and then, to help build strength, she started going to the gym as well. She added in CrossFit and soon, not only was she ranked top ten in the world for the 50m breaststroke for her age category, she had her identity of being a healthy person back.
With two teenage daughters, Osborne initially joined TikTok just to do the silly dances but when she posted a “flex photo” in her training suit it got people’s attention (and “understandably mortified my daughters” she laughs). “For me, it’s me, and I didn’t think much of it,” she says, but people were shocked when they found out she was over 50. Her followers skyrocketed and soon people started reaching out.
“As much as people lay out TikTok, it’s been a great way to connect with people and on the whole people are really kind. Someone contacted me yesterday on a video I did and said every time they work out they think of me and try to push themselves. Or some say I’ve helped change their life. It’s been really wonderful.” Although she shies away from the label of “role model” she does want to light the way for others. “I hope I’m the possibility for others to see they can prioritize their own health and wellbeing. I don’t want to put myself up there as the way to do it or that it has to look like me—fit people come in a hundred different shapes and sizes—it’s more about getting people to challenge their limitations. I used to think: ’I’m too old for that’ or ‘I’ve missed my chance’ or ‘there’s no way I could learn to do a handstand now,’ but I hope by showing people it can be done that it might help them challenge themselves in whatever interests them.”
Osborne says she is also inspired by other swimmers who are older than her. “Seeing swimmers in their 70s, 80s, and 90s break records, it gives me hope that there is so much life to be lived ahead of me.”
Currently, Osborne swims every weekday morning to train for the winter masters state championship, the Pan Pacific Masters Games, and eventually she has her sights set on the 2024 Masters World Championships in Doha. “I never thought I would get back into swimming, it wasn’t something I missed particularly, but when I did that race and felt that surge of emotion… Now, I just love it. It’s the foundation of my life.”