Stephanie Rice knows how to make a splash in and out of the pool. Australia is fascinated by her every move, from winning three gold medals at the 2008 Beijing Olympics to her high-profile relationships and those Twitter faux pas. Her management warned that her personal life, her shoulder injury and Kobe Bryant were off-limits, but Kate Waterhouse sat down with the 24-year-old and found her charming and happy to talk boys.
Are you enjoying being single?
Yes, I am. It's weird, I definitely love being in a relationship but at this point in time [and] leading into the Games, I didn't even think about being single, and since I've been home I haven't really thought about it. I'm not really the sort of person who likes to float around with a lot of different people, I'm the sort of person who likes to dedicate myself to one person.
Does the training affect your personal life?
Yes, it definitely does, not so much with relationships because once you're in a relationship it's pretty easy but in terms of my friends, everything is surrounded by me … I don't like it because I'd love to meet up with my friends whenever is convenient for both of us but it has to be when it's convenient for me, when I need to eat, what I need to eat, at special places, and it's tough.
You're a painful friend!
Yes, I am! Also when you are at home and you're not training, you're recovering so that time is also really important, so I can't go out shopping for a few hours because I will be tired for training in the afternoon. There are so many things that go into it that people don't understand.
Is it hard to meet people when you're in the spotlight or is it easier to date someone in the same field?
I think when I find a boyfriend they tend to be someone who understands the lifestyle that you have and that has really worked well with me dating Eamon [O'Sullivan] and Quade [Cooper]; they both understood the training side of things, which a lot of people don't get - even my best friends. I try to explain to them and they don't get it and I like that they don't get it, but in a relationship I think it's really important to me that they understand there are a lot of sacrifices that go into it.
Were you disappointed that you didn't have the same success in London as you had in Beijing?
I'm really happy about the way I executed what was thrown at me but I'm disappointed that it was the path I had to take, especially in a really huge Olympic year. I wanted to be able to do better because I know I'm capable of it; it just didn't work out that way for me.
Are you planning to compete in Rio?
Oh, Rio is so far away and it's so hard to know. I've been to two [Olympics] and I would love to go to another one but it's so far away that I don't really want to put any pressure on myself, because who knows what will happen in four years' time? The wait between Beijing and London was the longest time ever and I changed so much as a person, in swimming life … and personal life. Who knows what will happen?
Do you feel the pressure to protect what you say on social media these days?
Yes … it's so important to be your own person and to have the authenticity but you are protecting a brand that you have so you can't always be 100 per cent yourself … I've learnt a lot, not just with media but with everything I do. I think everyone makes mistakes but it's important to learn from your mistakes. If I have a bad race I like to watch it and analyse it and there is always room to grow and it's the same with me and media. Every time I do an interview I like to watch it back and pick up on words that I say that I could change for next time. I seem to have one word of the month, like ''awesome'', that I say all the time and I'll be like, ''I think I need to find a new word.''
What's the plan after swimming?
At the moment I'm starting my own company for kids' swimwear and I have a lot of things I'd like to do including media and presenting.
WE WENT TO Rockpool Bar at Rockpool Bar and Grill, city.
WE DRANK 2010 Robert Oatley ''Signature Series'' Mornington Peninsula, Victoria.
STEPHANIE WORE a Wilcox dress and YSL heels.