Sport motivates you in all avenues of life


Judy Luxton, a former Olympian, says she owes it to her childhood passion of swimming for all of her success today.

Judy was raised in Brisbane and was never far from the water. Her father and grandfather owned a boat so there was no hesitation in learning to swim at a young age. While it was her family that encouraged her to swim, she said it was always a thrill.

It wasn’t until Judy was 10 years old that she consistently started placing first and second in her swimming races that her public-school teacher suggested she seek out a career in competitive swimming and get a coach.

Joe King became Judy’s coach throughout her childhood years. “He was a very good coach, he was an amateur coach as he actually couldn’t swim but he knew what to look for,” says Judy.

Judy Luxton, 2013, walked the great wall of China to raise money for Mater Little Miracles. Photo: Judy Luxton.
Judy Luxton, 2013, walked the great wall of China to raise money for Mater Little Miracles. Photo: Judy Luxton.

As Judy got more popular, professionals would ask to be her coach. “I had many different people come to my parents to try and coach me, but I said no”. It was the unique bond with her and Mr. King that proved successful in supporting Judy’s training.

Judy was only 13 when her gruelling hard work paid off. A scout for the Olympics recognised her sheer talent and selected her for the 1972 Olympics. Just four months later, once she turned 14, she was training to compete in Germany for the Australian swimming team.

The furthest she had gone to participate in swimming was Hobart, Tasmania for a national swimming event. But never overseas.

It was late August of 1972 when Judy had to grow up very fast during her first Olympic event in Munich. She was selected to do breaststroke as part of the team, competing in the 100M and the 200M breaststroke events. As a young girl, the experience was different but it set her up to compete in the 1976 Olympics in Montreal, Quebec. 

The Australian nationals were also considered trials for the Olympics. “I wanted to do well, really well,” says Judy. Because of this determination, she managed to be the fifth person in Australia to swim the 400M individual medley in under five minutes, which helped her get selected for the 1976 Olympic events.

With the help of Mr. King, Judy placed highly in all of her races affording her multiple first, second and third place titles.

After her participation in the Olympics and the success that came with it, Judy was motivated to gain a bachelor’s degree and move her career forward. Unfortunately, in Australia at the time, Universities did not offer sport-based scholarships. So, she took her studies overseas.

“It’s a good feeling when you win, so I wanted to win more”. Her ambitions prompted her to successfully achieving a swimming scholarship at Stanford University in California where she joined their swim team. 

After a year in the United States, with a different coach, this marked the end of her swimming career. “The coach in Stanford was not the same as what I had, I felt I didn’t swim as well as I could have and because of that, I lost my motivation,” Mrs. Luxton said.

It was after her year abroad that made her realise she could do more with her skills. “I feel sorry for people who can’t get away from their sport. It gives you a sort of adrenaline but at some point, you need to further benefit yourself and use what you’ve learnt to explore other avenues”.

Judy took this as an opportunity to obtain a degree so she could be a sociologist. She assisted people with debilitating conditions, such as cardiac-arrest victims, to get fit and healthy again. 

Following this same health and fitness profession, Judy went to the Institution of Sport to get back to her roots and become a swim coach. Here she spent four years before moving to the recruitment side of the medical and sales industry where she stayed for the following years.

It was ultimately Judy’s childhood in competitive swimming that gave her the motivation and persistence to be such a hard worker.

Judy now has her own business named Japan Holidays where she would send Australians overseas to experience the world, plan people’s holidays and escort some tours.

Judy says Japan impressed her so much that she and her partner decided to build a company based around their passion and love for Japan.

Judy believes her experience in competitive swimming, and all the quirks that came along with it, gave her the skills to make it where she is today.

“Not only was it the discipline and focus you get from sport, but it was meeting the queen and visiting schools for inspirational talks that gave me the social and strategic skills needed for business,” says Judy.

Judy was happy that she could eventually move away from her childhood sport and instead utilise the skills she gained from sport to benefit herself and further her career.

“Life comes together a lot of the time when you realise the skills you have through sport”, Mrs. Luxton said. This mindset after being an Olympian has opened up many doors for Judy throughout her life.

Swimming will always play an important role in Judy’s life. Every morning she takes time out to swim at her local pool. And this simple move motivates her to start the day with a passion for taking on everyday life.