Australia’s multiple Olympic medallist Michael Klim visited Mumbai on Saturday as part of brand promotion for his skin care brand ‘Milk Co’ that he owns with elder sister Anna Eagle. The visit to the country also allowed him to meet his now 81-year-old coach Khorshed Bhathena when the duo extended an invitation to Bhathena to the launch party.
The brother and sister had learnt swimming under Bhathena back in the late 1970s in one of Mumbai’s oldest pools, the Breach Candy Swimming Bath Trust (Breach Candy Club).
“My father Wojtek was a Polish diplomat, who was posted in Bombay from 1978-1982. We used to stay in Malabar Hill and go to learn swimming under Khorshed every day at the Breach Candy club. I have a deep connection with this city as I’ve taken my baby steps in the pool here. The seeds of my success were sown here in Bombay. I was a six-year-old when I left the city, so I don’t remember much. But my parents have told me stories about my childhood. It’s nostalgic, as I plan to visit the club and the apartment we stayed here tomorrow,” Klim, a two-time Sydney Olympic champion, told Mid-Day.
Anna, who handles the export side of the business, recalled her initiation into swimming. “I went to Green Lawns High School (Malabar Hill) and I very clearly remember that Michael (three-and-a-half years old then) and myself (then five) always looked forward to our swimming lessons after we returned home from school. It’s funny, but I cannot call this place Mumbai, it remains etched as Bombay for me.”
For Bhathena, however, it was more of a fan moment. “In my five-decade long coaching career, Michael has been my brightest student. Back then, though he was barely three years old, he stood out and would beat boys twice his age.I always knew he was talented and I take pride in his achievements. It was very touching when he gifted me an autographed picture of himself holding up all his Olympic medals with the message: ‘What I am today is because of you’. That’s my most prized possession,” said Bhathena.
Klim won a bronze in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, two golds and two silvers in the 2000 Sydney Olympics and silver in the 2004 Athens Olympics. He retired in 2007 but came back in 2011 in an attempt at qualifying for the London Olympics. However, he failed in doing so and called time for good post that.