Olivia Dunne Opens Up About Pressures of Growing Up in Competitive Gymnastics: ‘Perfection Isn’t Real’

The LSU star first stepped foot into a gym at the age of 3. Today, she is the highest-paid female NCAA athlete in the country.
Olivia Dunne

Olivia Dunne.

NCAA athlete Olivia Dunne has been practicing gymnastics since she was 3. The 2024 SI Swimsuit rookie’s entire childhood consisted of the sport, and when she joined elite gymnastics, the pressure increased and the atmosphere intensified, as everyone’s goal was to make the Olympics. She joined the U.S. national team roster in 2017, and it was certainly an honor, but one that came with a lot of difficulty and the sacrifice of her normal teenage years. 

A few years later, she left the professional competition sphere and decided to accept a full-ride scholarship to LSU—a place where she could just be a college student while practicing the sport she loved.

Today, the 21-year-old is the highest-paid female college athlete in the country. She might not be competing on an international level, but she’s certainly making her mark on the world and becoming a trailblazer for students who want to capitalize off of their name, image and likeness.

“Growing up in the sport of gymnastics, you are constantly being judged,” she said in a powerful and moving new video with


athletics, an activewear brand for which Dunne has been a longtime ambassador. “Being in the spotlight and having these eyes on you, you feel like you need to be perfect.”

“She has over 15 million followers, but is Livvy Dunne good for women’s sports?” a news broadcast voiceover asked in the clip, containing montages and videos of Dunne training, stretching, laughing with friends and competing on the floor, beam and bars.

“Everyone gets overwhelmed, so being able to have something that brings you to that moment of happiness and that moment of peace and bliss is essential,” she continued, in promotion of the company’s


line. “I always come back to the simple things: connecting with nature and being around the people I love. Perfection isn’t real. But finding moments of bliss can be, I just have to look in the right places.”

Ananya Panchal


Ananya Panchal is a NYC-based Lifestyle & Trending News writer at SI Swimsuit. Before joining the Swim team, the Boston University Alum worked for culture & entertainment beats at Bustle, The San Francisco Chronicle and the TODAY Show. When Ananya is not writing or doom-scrolling on social media, she can be found playing sudoku, rewatching One Tree Hill or trying new restaurants. She's also a coffee and chocolate (separately) enthusiast.