• Lifestyle

It's all Hanson deck for this Starlight swimming family

Olympic gold medallist Brooke Hanson OAM talks about ocean swimming as a family and her connection to the Starlight Super Swim.

Brooke Hanson OAM is an Olympic gold and silver medallist, world champion, former world record holder, and is regarded as one of Australia’s most recognised Olympians. 

Ms Hanson grew up on the Northern Beaches of Sydney and has fond memories of spending her childhood around the water with her family.

“Growing up my family and I spent a lot of time around the water, whether that be the swimming pool, creek, beach, dam and harbour,” said Ms Hanson.

“I had always had a connection with the water and was always a water baby and I’m certain that my upbringing helped me connect with the water on a spiritual level and love the ocean.

“My ocean swimming journey began at a very young age through my involvement in nippers at surf lifesaving and it has been something that I have continued through my whole life so far.”

Growing up in the water has had a huge influence on Ms Hanson and is the driving force of passing down her love of the water and ocean swimming to her kids.

“I believe that ocean swims are the best for all ages and of all levels of ability,” said Ms Hanson.

“I love how ocean swims can really be a family activity and we can do it all together and it is truly a joy to see my children loving the water as much as I do.

“For my family, learning to swim has been so important because we can then get the kids into nippers and then they start asking when they can do ocean swims and it just turns into a family activity.

“We always celebrate the wonderful milestones when each of our children reaches an age to compete in an ocean swim because my family just loves being healthy, active and in the ocean together”

L-R: Jared Clarke (Brooke’s Husband), Ian Hanson (Brooke’s Dad), Brooke Hanson, Summer (Brooke’s Niece), Copper (Brooke’s Son), Taj (Brooke’s Nephew).

I asked Ms Hanson what her and her family’s favourite ocean swim is and her response was simple “the Coffs Coast Ocean Swim.” 

“Without a doubt, the Coffs Coast Ocean Swim is my family’s and I favourite because it is around the iconic Coffs Harbour Jetty,” said Ms Hanson.

“Coffs Harbour is a second home to me and I love that my whole family can do the event and that our support crew can follow us by walking along the jetty, cheering us on.

“We always like to say ‘a family who swims together, stays doing’ and it’s always wonderful to see three generations of my family swimming in the event.” 

A family who swims together, stays doing

Brooke Hanson OAM

Being a well-experienced water woman since an early age, I pressed Brooke about her best tips to prepare and participate in an ocean swim, and without missing a beat, her first response was “ocean swims are not always about winning.” 

“Ocean swimming for me is about the achievement and completing a challenge you set for yourself rather than swimming,” said Ms Hanson.

“I like to tell people to set a goal and start swimming daily and slowly build up your kilometres during your preparation.

“And always remember to work at your own pace and mix up your swimming from the pool to the creek to ocean.

“Then on the day of your ocean swim event, arrive early, have a warm-up swim and get yourself familiar with the course.

“The best advice I was given when participating in an ocean swim was to pick a shore landmark close to the finish line so that you can look for that while you are swimming. This is one of the best tips I have ever gotten and I still use it every time.”

Brooke and her family preparing for an ocean swim

Ms Hanson and her family use her passion for the water to help raise funds and awareness for sick children by participating in the Starlight Super Swim each year.

“I have supported and been an ambassador for the Starlight Super Swim for many years because I know from personal experience how Starlight truly helps sick children and their families,” said Ms Hanson.

“It’s a charity I have cared so much about since losing my second son Jack Hanson Clarke because Jack lived for nine months in intensive care and the Starlight Foundation and Starlight rooms helped us during our most difficult days.

“I would say to all the swimmers participating in the challenge to just keep swimming and remember the incredible impact you are having on sick children and their families. As well as big thank you for supporting this incredible charity.”

To join Ms Hanson and her family at Beachside Radiology Coffs Coast Ocean Swim on Sunday, 3 April, 2022, head to the Coffs Coast Ocean Swim listing to enter.

  • Written by Ocean Swims on 21 February 2022
  • (Updated on 3 August 2023)

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