Brooke made her debut for the Australian Swimming Team at the 1994 Commonwealth Games before going on to represent Australia over 25 times at major international championships.
In 2004 Brooke climbed her Everest, when, after missing two Olympic teams in 1996 and 2000, she won her Olympic gold and silver medals in Athens.
Brooke’s was one of the real success stories of 2004, hearing her name read out on the Olympic team after winning three gold and one silver medal in front of a packed hometown crowd at the Olympic Trials in her hometown, Sydney.
And she has not looked back since. After winning silver in the 100m breaststroke and gold as a member of the 4x100m medley relay team, Brooke went from strength to strength.
She created history at the 2004 FINA World Short Course Championships in Indianapolis where she won a record six gold medals – five individual and the 4x100m medley relay in world record time.
After 13 years as a member of the Australian swimming team Brooke joined the motivational speaking circuit and her’s is a story to behold – giving a behind the scenes insight of a young woman’s journey to reach her Olympic dream.
Since her retirement from competitive swimming Brooke released her autobiography “When Silver Is Gold” The Brooke Hanson Story and she loves nothing more than to share her inspirational story with everyone she meets.
Her television presenting on the TV Week Logie winning show “What’s Good for You” earned her a Logie nomination for Best New Female Talent.
Brooke is currently the female presenter on the Nine Network’s Discover Downunder and along with fellow presenter Tim Smith enjoys exploring the best camping and caravanning holiday destinations around Australia.
Brooke has gone on to enjoy a successful career for herself as a television host and product ambassador and continues to balance her blooming professional media career with, motherhood, sponsorship appearances, motivational speaking, charity events, swim clinics and her commitment to promoting a healthy and active lifestyle for all Australians.
THE Brooke Hanson story
Olympic swimming gold and silver medallist Brooke Hanson OAM was born in Manly, NSW on the 18th of March 1978.
Tiny Tot Years
In 1983, at the age of four and after two almost tragic events involving water, Brooke was taught to swim by the legendary Olympian and internationally acclaimed coach Terry Gathercole at his Killarney Heights Swim Centre in NSW.
It was obvious to her swimming teachers and her parents that Brooke was born to breaststroke as in her very first race in the Gathercole’s annual Tiny Tot Meet at the tender age of five, she competed in a freestyle event – swam it breaststroke – and won the race!
Brooke attended Manly West Primary School in NSW and then Mackellar Girls High in Manly Vale in NSW and started swimming by competing in school carnivals, then district and regional level swim meets and onto State and National level competitions.
Brooke remained undefeated from Year 6 to Year 12 in her favourite event, the 100m breaststroke.
She joined the local swimming club at Manly’s “Boy Charlton Olympic Pool” and also the Freshwater Junior “Nippers” Surf Life Saving Club which provided her with a fun start to her career.
At the age of 16, Brooke, swimming for Warringah Aquatic, made her international debut as the youngest member of the 1994 Commonwealth Games Australian swim team competing in Victoria, Canada, finishing in fourth place in the 200m breaststroke.
The disappointment of missing Olympic Games selection in 1996 by a mere 0.11 sec. did not deter her from dominating the breaststroke events on the 1996 Mare Nostrum tour to Europe.
At 19, Brooke left the comforts of the family home on the northern beaches of Sydney to base herself in Melbourne to train under the then National Breaststroke coach, Leigh Nugent at the Nunawading Swimming Club and to study a Bachelor of Arts Degree majoring in Journalism at Deakin University.
In 1999 Brooke won a silver medal in the 200m breaststroke and a bronze medal at the World University Games in Palma, Mallorca. In early 2000 Brooke won a bronze medal in the 200m breaststroke at her first FINA World Short Course Championships in Athens, Greece.
Brooke then overcame the disappointment of failing to qualify for the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games team again by claiming victory in the 50m breaststroke at the 2000 Telstra Australian Championships – her first Open National Title, a feat she repeated in 2003 and 2004 – a win that was a major turning point in her career.
Brooke made her FINA World Swimming Championship long course debut on the all-conquering Australian Swim Team in Fukuoka, Japan in 2001 where she achieved an Australian Record time in the semi-final of the 50m breaststroke, breaking the 1998 record held by the legendary Samantha Riley. She went on to place fifth in the final.
She returned home to become the most successful Australian swimmer at the 2001 Goodwill Games in Brisbane, winning the 50 and 100m breaststroke in the victorious Australian Women’s Team.
At the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester, Brooke won silver in the 100m breaststroke, before qualifying for the 100 and 200m breaststroke finals at the 2002 Pan Pacific Championships in Yokohama, Japan.
After a series of personal best times, Brooke qualified for the 2003 FINA World Championships in Barcelona, where she won silver in the 50m breaststroke and finished sixth in the 100m breaststroke final.
She established new Australian records for the 50m breaststroke in both the heat and the semi-final in Barcelona before holding off world record holders Zoe Baker (Great Britain) and Leisel Jones (AUS) to win silver.
Brooke returned home to Hobart where she won her fourth consecutive 50m crown at the Australian Short Course Championships, after again breaking the Australian record in the semi-final to become the fourth fastest swimmer in history for the event. She later won silver in the 200m breaststroke and set a new Australian record in the 100m IM.
But it was 2004 that finally saw Brooke achieve her childhood dreams of becoming an Olympian.
Brooke won three gold and one silver at the 2004 Telstra Olympic Swim Team Trials in Sydney to qualify for her first Olympics at the age of 26, swimming the meet of her life, in front of a vocal crowd of family and supporters.
Then Brooke went on to the Games of the 28th Olympiad in Athens, winning a silver medal in the 100m breaststroke ahead of team mate and world record holder Leisel Jones at the Athens Olympics and as a member of the gold medal winning 4 x 100 medley Relay as a heat swimmer – a dream come true.
World Champion 6 times
After a brief reprieve and some more training back in Australia Brooke went on to the FINA World Short Course Championships in Indianapolis where she made history, winning a record six gold medals in the 50, 100 and 200m breaststroke, the 100 and 200IM and as a member of the world record breaking 4 x 100m medley relay. Brooke was named the female swimmer of the World Championships and her crystal vase is pride and place on her mantle piece.
The following year 2005 saw Brooke successfully defend her 200m individual medley title and finish second in the 50 & 100m breaststroke at the Telstra Trials in Sydney to qualify for the World Championships in Montreal.
At the FINA World Championships in Montreal, Canada Brooke won bronze in the 50m breaststroke and was a heat swimmer in Australia’s victorious 4x100m medley relay team.
Brooke returned to Australia for the Telstra Australian Short Course championships where she won three gold and one silver medal.
In 2006 Brooke won her third consecutive National 200m individual medley title and finished third in the 200m breaststroke at the Telstra Commonwealth Games trials in Melbourne.
After being the baby of the Commonwealth Games team in Canada in 1994 Brooke was thrilled to be the oldest female swimmer on the 2006 Australian Commonwealth Games team.
She was honoured to again be apart of the Australian Swimming team leadership committee and enjoyed planning the team’s social events, team building activities and team cheers, a role she had enjoyed since 2002.
In front of a home crowd at the Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games Brooke claimed the silver medal in the 200m individual medley behind Australian team mate Stephanie Rice and finished fourth in the 200m breaststroke on her 27th birthday.
Brooke then returned to the stage that saw her win six World Short Course titles to successfully defend her 100m individual medley title at the FINA World Short Course Championships in Shanghai, China. She also added a second gold as a heat swimmer in the Australian relay and silver in the 50m breaststroke.
Brooke made a tough decision to withdraw from the Pan Pacific Championship team to begin combining her swimming with a new role as a presenter on the Nine Network’s “What’s Good For You” television series.
The move seemed to agree with Brooke as she has continued her success in the pool claiming three silver medals at the 2006 Telstra Australian Short course championships in Hobart.
A tumultuous year was to follow for Brooke in 2007 with the joy of her wedding to long time partner and fellow swimmer Jared Clarke followed by her near tragic electric shock mid year.
Brooke announced her retirement from competitive swimming in late 2007, released her autobiography ‘When Silver Is Gold’ in 2008 and still continues to promote healthy active living while working in the media, for her sponsors, corporate partners and various charity groups.
Brooke was nominated for a TV logie for best female new talent and was a part of the Logie winning lifestyle show What’s Good For You.
On October 8th 2009 Brooke and Jared welcomed their first born child into the world, son Cooper John Clarke.
On July 8th 2011 the couple’s second son Jack Hanson Clarke was born at 28 weeks 5 days, 12 weeks premature, weighing just 663grams, severely growth restricted and only 32cm long.
After a nine-month battle in the NICU Jack passed away. In the end Jack’s severe chronic lung disease along with his pulmonary hypertension, all became too much for his little body to bear and despite his amazing strength, he lost his fight for life after suffering a cardiac arrest on April 3rd 2012.
Despite their grief Brooke and Jared appeared on 60minutes, sharing their story with Australia. They wanted to help other families by talking about their loss, their journey, the love they had for Jack, and the importance of “Family”
The couple along their children together continue to bring a greater awareness to the birth of premature babies in memory of their son and brother Jack.
After an emotionally tough three years Brooke, Jared and Cooper were thrilled with the arrival of their third child another boy Billy Mills Clarke on November 21st 2013. Loving parenthood Brooke and Jared were so excited to add another child and give their sons a baby sister, Matilda Brooke Clarke was born on August 21st 2015. After three boys Matilda was a real surprise to the family who felt so fortunate to bring healthy babies into the world after the death of Jack.
Brooke filmed her fifth series as host of the popular caravan & camping lifestyle show Discover Downunder with comedian Tim Smith. She really enjoyed travelling around the country and meeting every day Aussies that are living the dream in their home away from home.
Brooke continues to work with her many partners including; Jim’s Test and Tag, AUSTSWIM, Income Tax Professionals Queensland, Aqualink, The Pregnant Book, Responsible Gambling Victoria and Life’s Little Treasures Foundation.
She puts her name forward with charities that are close to her heart and through her speeches Brooke continues to motivate business people, athletes and school kids about the importance of believing in their dreams and never giving up.
Her interests include enjoying the great outdoors with husband Jared, trying to keep up with her children Cooper, Billy and Matilda and following AFL club Essendon, NRL club the Manly Sea Eagles, surfing, camping, cooking, bike riding and listening to music.
Looking back I wouldn’t have changed a thing. I guess missing those Olympic teams in 1996 and 2000 just made me determined to finally make it in 2004 and defined my career – representing Australia so many times and finally at an Olympics is something I will cherish forever. I remember one of my idols Linley Frame saying when she won the World Championship in 2001 – ‘if you get the chance to do it…do it’ …..and it’s an adage I have lived by ever since.”