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From competitive swimming to the hospitality industry: Eamon Sullivan

October 2020

The Governor sat down with West Australian triple Olympian, and now restaurateur, Mr Eamon Sullivan for the next installment of Conversations at Government House.

Conversation centered around Eamon’s outstanding achievements in competitive swimming and his favourite memories from this time, his passion for food and how he was able to turn this into five successful Perth restaurants and cafes.

Speaking about his move into the hospitality business from swimming, Eamon said that although it was a risk at times, his passion for cooking and ability to learn from mistakes – a skill honed in his swimming career –  has helped him to succeed,

“I just thought I would give it a go, and I was lucky to be at that point in my career where I had a bit of money to invest in opening a business. My first one was a coffee shop in Subiaco which was Louis Baxters and that was in 2011 after we won the gold medal in Shanghai for the 4 x 1. But I was still living in Sydney at that time so I opened it with a business partner and moved back to Sydney and that was a great learning curve. None of us knew anything about business and it didn’t go great, it didn’t go terrible, but it was kind of that in-between. We made a lot of mistakes along the way and didn’t really make any money out of it but learned a lot of lessons.

I’m a big advocate for learning from your mistakes, that’s basically what sport is…you don’t just get good overnight – you actually learn from your mistakes and you improve. That’s how you get better – by racing and racing and racing, and every time I raced I took away two things to work on and that’s kind of where I see myself with business – if you don’t learn from your mistakes you shouldn’t be in business, but if you can learn from them and improve that’s how you build your business. I guess that’s the approach I’ve taken along the way, because having no experience you kind of need to make mistakes and figure out that’s not the way to do it.”

Eamon is a former Olympic/World/Commonwealth swimming medallist, competing in the London 2012, Beijing 2008 and Athens 2004 Olympics, the 2006 Commonwealth Games and 2011 World Championships.

He is a world record holder in the 50m and 100m freestyle. At age 28, he retired from competitive swimming in 2014 due to an ongoing shoulder injury.

Following his retirement from swimming, Eamon now manages several restaurants in and around Perth:

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