Brooke Hanson Hangs up her Speedos


The 29-year-old had an international career that spanned 13 years and included three long course FINA World Championships, three Commonwealth Games’ and the Olympic appearance in 2004 where she also won a gold for swimming the breaststroke leg in the heats for Australia’s triumphant medley relay squad.

Overall Hanson amassed an international medal tally of 22 – 12 gold, 7 silver and 3 bronze, including a record breaking six gold medals at the 2004 FINA World Short Course Championships in Indianapolis where she was named swimmer of the meet.

The energetic sprinter, who was electrocuted in a freak accident in June, made the announcement in Sydney today, saying she had been considering quitting the sport for several months before arriving at a decision in the last few days.

“I had plenty of time out of the water after the electrocution and it gave me time to think things through,” Hanson told a media conference. “I didn’t think I could commit myself like I have in the past and while my swimming career has been a wonderful journey, I am ready to move on to another phase in my life. “I have often wondered how some of my friends have retired because I love swimming so much but now, as of today, my heart has told me how they did it and that is why I’m hanging up my Speedos.

“I love swimming and the whole sport and I didn’t want to end up hating it.”

Born in Sydney, Hanson began swimming at the Killarney Heights pool run by legendary swimming figure Terry Gathercole before joining Manly Swimming club and later the Warringah Aquatic Club under coach Graeme ‘Grub’ Carroll.

It was under Carroll’s tutelage that Hanson finished fourth in the 200m breaststroke at the 1994 Commonwealth Games in Vancouver, BC, Canada on her international debut as a 16-year-old.

Following the completion of high school at Manly’s Mackellar Girls High and after narrowly missing selection for the 1996 Olympics, Hanson moved south to Melbourne to join the Nunawading club and train under Leigh Nugent. She went on to be coached by Mark Thompson, Jim Fowlie and Amanda Isaac.

Hanson won her first international medal – a bronze in the 200m breaststroke – at the World Short Course Championships in Athens in 2000 but was again shut out of Olympic selection after placing fourth in both the 100 and 200m breaststroke at the Olympic Trials.

The next four years saw Hanson’s determination and commitment rewarded and her dream – Olympic selection fulfilled.

WEBSITE-Olympic-Games-Athens---14The realisation that her life’s work in the sport had finally led her to the Olympics, she says, was her proudest achievement.

“When I hit the wall at the 2004 Olympic Trials and realised that I was going to be an Olympian, something I had dreamed of since the age of six, it was the reward for years of hard work and perseverance through the good and bad times,” Hanson said.

“I had been acting like an Olympian and I was going to be one. It was probably the best moment for me in my whole career.”

It was later in 2004 that Hanson found her greatest international successes, culminating in the gold and silver medals in Athens and the six gold – five of which were in individual events, a feat never before achieved at a major international meet – at the World Short Course Championships.

Hanson also joined all-time greats Mark Spitz, Kristin Otto, Ian Thorpe and Michael Phelps as the only swimmers to win six gold medals at a major international swim meet.

WEBSITE WSC 2004 - 20

Hanson’s last major international competition was the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne where she won silver in the 200m individual medley.

Amongst Hanson’s other notable achievements is holding the short course 100 and 200m individual medley Commonwealth records and for her part in Australia’s world record breaking short course medley relay team in 2004.

She also won seven Australian long course titles and an Australian women’s record 18 National short course titles.

Swimming Australia CEO Mr Glenn Tasker praised Hanson for her attitude, achievements and contribution to the sport.


“Brooke has been a shining example of the Australian ‘never give up’ attitude to sport and her drive to become an Olympian kept her focussed on a career that was punctuated by injury,” Mr Tasker said.

“She overcame all of these setbacks to not only become an Olympian but to win silver and gold in Athens. “She showed that was no fluke by following it up a month later when she won six gold at the World Short Course Championships in Indianapolis.

“Brooke has been a well respected member of the Australian Swim Team and a great ambassador for our sport.”

Hanson is married to former Nunawading club mate and freestyle sprinter Jared Clarke. She will now take some time out to consider her future away from the pool but said she was interested in pursuing a career in television that has already seen her work in both the sport and lifestyle genre’s.


Brooke Hanson exclusive: My miracle baby

By Julie Hayne : Womans Day

The expectant mum feared years of hard training had robbed her of the chance to have children.

You’d be forgiven for not recognising Olympic champion Brooke Hanson if you passed her in the street these days. The former elite swimmer’s once super-toned physique has been replaced by what Brooke calls a “real woman’s body” — and, most thrillingly, a baby bump.

“I’m totally excited,” says the bubbly 31-year-old as she welcomes Woman’s Day into the Melbourne home she shares with husband Jared Clarke. “All the medals, ribbons, trophies and certificates in the world couldn’t compare to the excitement we felt when we learnt that ‘Baby Clarke’ was finally on his or her way.”

Brooke’s joy is made even more precious by the fact that for so long she feared her life in the pool had destroyed her chances of being a mum. “Being one of the best swimmers in the world turned my body into a robot,” says Brooke. “I had irregular periods for 15 years and no cycle at all in the last three years of my career.

“When I retired from swimming [in late 2007], I was on a mission to transform my body from that of an elite athlete to one of a woman wanting a baby. Not competing gave me the chance to concentrate on gaining fat in spots a woman needs to, which in turn gave me a regular cycle.

“After six months, my doctor gave me the thumbs-up and told Jared and I to go have some fun,” she laughs.

The champ, who can count among her medals a silver and gold from the 2004 Athens Olympics, reveals it was in February during a visit to her grandparents in Coffs Harbour, NSW, that she learnt she was pregnant. “I had a feeling I might be pregnant, but when I did a test, it was negative.

“I did another test while I was in Coffs, because I was so fatigued, and this time it was positive.

“I was in the bedroom, and when I yelled out to Jared and told him we were having a baby, he came running in and hugged me harder than he ever has, and we both started crying.”

For the full story, see this week’s Woman’s Day — on sale April 27, 2009.



Brooke Hanson calls it quits

Olympic silver medallist Brooke Hanson finally stepped off her rollercoaster of a career by announcing her retirement from swimming – just eight months out from the Beijing Games.

The 29-year-old has faced a multitude of challenges during her career and this year alone had to deal with suffering an electric shock, a shoulder injury and her coach Mark Thompson successfully fighting molestation charges.

The dramas have put a massive strain on the bubbly breaststroker and Hanson said she had lost her the hunger for the pool some 13 years after first making an Australian swimming team.

“I now know that my heart, my mind and my body have decided it is time for the next chapter in my life,” she said.

Hanson said she wasn’t completely sure if she would have quit the sport if she hadn’t suffered the electric shock in June at a spa show in Melbourne that put her Olympic preparations well behind schedule.

But after putting her TV ambitions ahead of swimming before this year’s world championships, Hanson wasn’t likely to have had a major impact in Beijing anyway.

She claimed a memorable silver medal in the 100m breaststroke at the 2004 Athens Olympics following the gut-wrenching experiences of just missing out on the 1996 Atlanta and 2000 Sydney Games.

She collected six gold medals at the 2004 world short-course championships but said the highlight of her career was just making the Athens Olympic team.

“The highlight for me was after missing ’96 and missing 2000, touching that wall at the Olympic trials in 2004,” he said.

“Just realising that I was after all those hurdles and so much pain of having never been an Olympian and having lived my life like an Olympian.

“To touch that wall and to become an Olympian in 2004 was more of a highlight than the Olympic Games and anything else.”

Hanson received an Olympic gold medal for her heat swim for the Australian 4x100m medley relay in Athens.

There was controversy surrounding the relay as the breaststroke leg in the final was handed to Leisel Jones, who had finished behind Hanson in the 100m final.

The two had a much-publicised spat that was patched up.

Jones subsequently recovered from her disastrous performances in Athens to dominate the breaststroke world.

Hanson said that without Jones she would never have made an Olympic podium.

“It was because she was in the sport that made me lift so much to make that Olympic team,” Hanson said.

“What happened in 2004 has made her a stronger, better person and next year I will be cheering her on to get gold in both the 100m and 200m breaststroke because I know how passionate she is about it and how hard she trains.

“I thank her for all the success I had in 2004 because without her I would not have achieved Olympic medal status.”

Hanson planned to have some time off to think about her future but said she was keen on a career in TV.



Electric Shock

On the afternoon of Sunday, June 17 my sister Jade and I both suffered electric shocks at the Pool and Spa Show in Melbourne and I am relieved and satisfied to hear today’s findings of the investigation which has been carried out by Energy Safe Victoria.

Energy Safe Victoria also explained to me that because I was the person in the water that I copped the full brunt of the shock.

I am also pleased that my sister Jade, who suffered muscle spasms and headaches for a week, has had no lasting ill-effects from her shock and can pursue her water polo career

It was a relief to hear that Energy Safe found there was absolutely nothing wrong with the Endless Spa which I had swum in several times before. Endless Spas have been major supporters of mine since before I made the 2004 Olympic Team and they have continued to support me through what has been a trying time for all of us. In fact the support I have received from around Australia and the world has been quite overwhelming.

I am so thankful to the people who have sent me their best wishes.

My house looks like a florist with flowers arriving from my sponsors Endless Spas and GNC; Channel 9 Sydney and Melbourne and the team at What’s Good For You, the Nunawading Swimming Club, the Currumbin Beach Vikings SLSC, Bunning’s Warehouse, and of course the dozen cup cakes I received from Crabapple Bakery (who made my wedding cake).

The hundreds of get well cards, emails, phone calls and text messages from family, friends and supporters, members of the media, everyone in the Swimming Australia community and most importantly the public support has been overwhelming.

I want to thank everyone for giving me the space to get over what has been a very difficult time.

I spent the first week after the shock sleeping 18 to 20 hours a day and having massages to help aid my recovery from the muscle spasms and muscular fatigue.

I began swimming lightly on Monday but did not realise the full extent of my injuries suffered from the fall from the spa until then.

I sustained injuries to my left shoulder and neck, leaving the muscles and joints severely inflamed, requiring regular physiotherapy, massage, acupuncture and daily icing.

I’m putting all my energy into the rehabilitation of my injuries so I can prepare for my return to racing at the Telstra Australian Short Course Championships in Melbourne in August.

But my main priority now is to get my health back to 100 percent.

Once again thank you all for your support.

Yours in swimming

Brooke Hanson


Hanson in the Zone

The disappointment of missing Olympic Games selection in 1996 by a mere 0.11sec and missing selection again in 2000 by 0.80sec did not deter Brooke Hanson from going after her dream to be an Olympian.

In 2004, Brooke made her first Olympic Games team to Athens and went on to win a silver medal in the 100m Breaststroke and was a member of the gold medal winning medley relay team.

Brooke then returned from Athens to compete at the World Short Course Trials in Brisbane and flew from Brisbane to Indianapolis to compete at the Championships.

At the 2004 FINA World Short Course Championships, Brooke entered illustrious company as one of five people to ever win six ”

The others need no introduction: Kristen Otto, Mark Spitz, Ian Thorpe and Michael Phelps!

“To be mentioned in the same sentence as Kristen and those three guys is something very hard to believe,” Hanson said. “It is surreal because of what they have achieved in the sport. I don’t think it would have been possible to have a better meet. Six races, six gold medals, pb’s, Commonwealth Records, a World Record in the relay and then the female swimmer of the meet. I’m speechless.”

Hanson leapfrogged Otto, Spitz, Thorpe and Phelps by becoming the first swimmer in the history of the sport to win five individual gold medals at the one major meet. That includes Olympic Games, World Championships, Commonwealth Games, Pan Pacific Championships and World Short Course Championships.

The 200m breaststroke win added to her victories in the 50m and 100m breaststroke, the 100m and 200m individual medley and the 4x100m medley relay.

The women’s breaststroke events were tough as Hanson defeated the Olympic Champion in both the 100m breaststroke (Hi Qui) and the 200m breaststroke (Amanda Beard) and the world record holder in the 50m breaststroke (Jade Edmistone).

The 26-year-old was also named Female Swimmer of the Meet.

“That is the first time I have ever won a Female Swimmer of the Meet Award,” Hanson said. “Even at State or National level I have never won that so to do it at a World Championships tops off what has been a dream.”



Athletes Olympic Creed

This is the Athletes Olympic Creed that I put on my door at the Olympic village :

Real winners have learned…

  • the most important goal, whether you win or lose, is to always do your best
  • not to quit, no matter how hard the going gets
  • not to blame others, for you will lose the respect of friends, coaches and yourself
  • to always play fair and by the rules, for that is the real essence of sportsmanship



Hanson Wins Silver in Athens

After two failed attempts to make the Australian Olympic Team in 1996 and 2000, Nunawading Swimming Club’s Brooke Hanson powered her way onto the 2004 Olympic Team and then powered her way to a silver medal behind China’s Xuejuan Luo in the Womens 100m Breaststroke in Athens.

WEBSITE-Olympic-Games-Athens---14“I can’t believe I have hung in there and won an Olympic medal. Any medal would have been fine for me so silver is great.” Hanson said.

“I was just in disbelief when I hit the wall. I couldn’t actually line up my name with my position at first and then I saw a six but that was because I was in lane six. This is unbelievable.”

More than 80 swimmers and parents gathered at Aqualink Nunawading to eat breakfast and watch a replay of Brooke’s 100m Breaststroke race. With Channel Nine’s Today Show on air in a live cross, the small but vocal crowd cheered Brooke on as they watched the race.

The crowd included Simon Moule, Brooke’s gym coach and Assistant Coach Grant Watson, two men who have played a major role in Brooke’s success.

Brooke’s training partners had earlier watched the race live and cheered her on to a personal best time. Brooke’s partner and club captain Jared Clarke talked about the emotions throughout the coverage earlier in the morning and the phone call he received from Brooke soon after the race.

Brooke’s coach, Mark Thompson, who is a member of the Australian Team coaching squad in Athens, was extremely excited about Brooke’s swim.

“How good was that!! Brooke did an awesome job to remain composed under the pressure. Although the conditions for fast swimming were not great (it was very windy) it was the same for everybody, so that wasn’t a drama. With 6 of the top 10 fastest 100m breast swimmers in history in that final, it could have been won by anybody. As we have seen with some other races at this meet, it doesn’t matter if you are world ranked no. 1 or the world record holder, you can still be beaten!!” said Thompson.

He went on to say that “Brooke swam a great first 50 and her second 50 was the fastest for the whole field and it was definitely the reason she got the medal. I don’t think they showed it on the TV, but Brooke didn’t realise for about 15 seconds that she had won a medal – she couldn’t line up her name properly and thought she had finished 6th. As you can imagine, she was pumped when she realised”.

Gary Barclay


Brooke’s Athens Diary

Finally my life long journey to the Olympic Games is about to begin. The time between the Telstra Olympic Team Selection Trials and the eve of departure for the Games has flown by and to think I’m only three-and-a-half weeks away from the biggest swimming carnival of my life – the worlds ultimate sporting event.

Before I knew it after the trials, I was back into a training routine at Nunawading that I thrive on and trying to juggle it with my outside commitments. The media attention I received has been fantastic; I’m really stoked to be getting some recognition after all my hard work and years of sacrifice.

I lay in bed at night thinking about what has changed from other years and the only real answer I can come up with is that I have been dedicated to the cause. In the lead up to the Trials I treated it like a “do or die” step in my life. I left no stone unturned in my preparation, both in the pool and in the gym.

I definitely have to thank Endless Spas and Australian Swimming, as without a regular income I would not have been able to focus solely on training and recovery and that has been a major factor in my faster performances in the pool.

Not having something on every day, gave me more time to relax rest and recover from each training session. It gave me more energy in each session and if I’m not giving 100 percent in every session, I can really notice the difference in my times and technique. By being ready to swim as fast as I can every day has physically and mentally prepared me to know I can once again, swim faster than I have ever swum before.

And I want to let you in on a little secret before I start my daily diary notes from the Australian team camp in Germany and during the Olympic Games.

The weekend before I left was spent celebrating where I had come from and where I was heading. Acknowledging the Olympic dream and being proud that the moment to leave had arrived. On Friday July 23 and Saturday July 24, I swam my last, hard, max efforts to end the Australian training sessions on a great note. On Friday, I clocked 1:06.0 for a short course 100m breaststroke (just outside the world record) and a 2:13 for the 200 individual medley.

The next day at 6.30am I swam 1:09.02 in a long course 100m breaststroke time trial without the Speedo Fast Skin suit and at 6:55am when I suited up, I clocked a 30.71 (on coach Mark Thompson’s stop watch) and 30.80 (on coach Grant Watson’s stop watch) – an unofficial Australian record, beating my own National record of 30.91 and just 0.22 outside Zo0e Baker’s world record.

The entire Nunawading squads stopped and it felt like every breath I took it was the Olympic final. The cheering from all the kids was amazing and my stroke felt strong and fast, although I was really fatigued. I was pumped with my swims and really ready to enjoy the official farewell pancake morning over at the Nunawading clubrooms.

It was time to tell everyone about my preparation and thank them for their support and show them the one item that was the highlight of my whole Olympic preparation – the Olympic torch, which I carried around the MCG – what a buzz to receive that torch from the legendary Herb Elliott.

I was now ready to start the final days in Melbourne, pack my bags and get ready for the trip of my life time – I’m going to the Olympic Games!

July 28

We departed out of Melbourne with a big hug and few tears with Jared (my boyfriend) after attending the Telstra Hero Message launch. All the build up and emotion to get ready for the Olympics was starting to make me realise that the trip of a life time was starting to become a reality – I was actually getting on plane to go to the Olympic Games in Athens. We received a pleasant surprise when all the Melbourne based swimmers were upgraded to business class for the flight to Singapore where we caught up with the rest of the swim team on route to our training camp in Sindelfingen via Frankfurt.

July 29

Arrived in Sindelfingen, a quite little town in the south of Germany and it was exactly what I needed after the big build up at home. A place to start our taper where there were no distractions. A place to train, eat, go to the gym, sleep, relax, read, listen to music, watch DVDs and get my body ready for what lay ahead – our biggest meet with our strongest team ever. It was also the start of a month with my “best roomie” Elka Graham.

July 30

It was important to settle into a normal sleeping pattern and I actually struggled a bit with the change in time zone. I trained outdoors for the first time in months to get me ready for the Olympic Pool in Athens with no roof.

July 31

We trained in the morning and Elka and I headed out to the local shopping Mall and we had a great afternoon together, shopping, trying on clothes and looking at all kinds of stuff. We purchased a few items to add that German touch to our wardrobe. Also managed a Gelati and of course the daily bottle of Pepsi

August 1

Training is going really well and it’s great to have my own coach from Nunawading, Mark Thompson, on the team and also our training group, Elka, Melissa Morgan and Michelle Engelsman – we all get on so well together. We are having a really good time and making the most of every day. It is now only one week until we arrive in Athens and enter the Olympic Village. I’m getting so excited. In the evening the Australian team hosted a special reception to thank the mayor of Sindelfingen. But in the afternoon we had to get our dry cleaning back and our official Australian Swim Team striped shirts had shrunk and lost colour and my white singlet had turned grey, but it’s all good, we’re having a really good time and making the most of every day.

August 2

Today was my last gym session. I feel strong and ready to swim faster than ever. My gym coach Simon Moule has done a great job and I owe him heaps. We had a women’s team meeting which was a great get together and our six previous Olympians spoke about their experiences and how the whole team could learn from some of the mistakes they had made. The coaches spoke about how far we had all come in four years and how we all deserved to be part of this team.

August 3

Tonight we had the team trivia night, which was a lot of fun.

We were all put into groups of eight but there was a big surprise at the end of the night. A DVD was put on as a tribute to five swimmers who have been part of the Australian Swimming Team for ten years Petria Thomas, Adam Pine, Sarah Ryan, Michael Klim and I. The presentation was fantastic and I had a tear in my eye looking at the footage from the 1994 Commonwealth Games when I was just 16. The team gave us a standing ovation and I was so overwhelmed that we had been recognised.

August 4

I woke up so happy after last night’s tribute. It was a wonderful moment and once again a proud feeling of being part of the Olympic team I went training and felt much better. My stroke was back on track and I am finally starting to feel like I’m tapering.

August 5

Tonight we had a full team meeting and our psychologist Clarke Perry spoke to us about how we were about to enter the circus and no mater how many distractions the circus provided we needed to focus on what we were going there to do and that was to swim as fast as we could. This team is really special and everyone gets on really well. When you can create a happy, relaxed environment that everyone enjoys being part of great swims, medals, PBs and team success is inevitable.

August 6

Throughout this week I have asked everyone on the team to sign a special book for our head coach Leigh Nugent. The night before I left Melbourne his wife Karen had brought it around so I could get everyone to sign it a special memento that could stay in the Nugent family for generations making sure 70 people all completed the task was something I really wanted to do to say thank you. Tonight we had Olympic Rookies night which was Karaoke and it was so much fun.

We dressed up, tried to sign, danced around, and made fools of ourselves.

August 7

After training, the whole team went on an outing to a small German town and we shopped, took photos and ate in a wonderful café. I took in the scenery and really enjoyed being in another country. Sometimes you have to pinch yourself to realize how lucky you is to be a part of this team, touring the world and seeing so many great places.

August 8

Today I had a good chat to our former head coach and team mentor Don Talbot who told me not to get psyched out by the fact I’m going to the Olympic Games he said to me “Don’t get scared of who you are racing, you can beat them all, be in there for a medal if I believe I can”. It was great to see that he believed in me. Don was right I know I’ve got what it takes, my body is in the best shape it has ever been in and I can feel that and see that in and out of the water. That afternoon I swam a 100 time trial eight days out from when I race. I clocked a 1:07.47 and it hurt like hell over the last 25 metres. I still have lots of rest to come but now I know I am on track for an Olympic medal. We received our Olympic team travel shirts at a team dinner and then packed my bags. We leave for Athens tomorrow.

August 9

The alarm went off at 5:15am and the Sindelfingen training camp was over and the day had arrived that we would enter the Olympic village. I couldn’t believe at 26 I was finally entering a world I had been dreaming of my whole life. Australian Swimming had arranged for a charter flight to take us directly from Stuttgart directly into Athens. We got through Customs, received our accreditation which was my pass to the Olympics, collected our bags and had lots of photos taken with what was going to be our Olympic Gold Pass for the next three weeks. When we left the airport in two buses it seemed like there was over 100 cameramen and television crews lining the streets just to get a glimpse of the Aussie swim team. We all felt like superstars. Before we knew it we had arrived into the village and sharing our apartment were Petria Thomas, Linda Mackenzie, Libby Lenton, Marieke Guehrer, Elka Graham and “the Chook”.

 Next stop was team outfitting and we were given trolleys and went around collecting our gear from Woolmark and Nike. We tried on everything and swapped for bigger and smaller sizes I actually swapped shorts with Leisel and then our bags were packed for us full of 100’s of different items of clothing. It was just fantastic. We headed back to the village for lunch and then off to the pool for training. It was great to finally have all my Olympic team gear, a very proud moment.

August 10

Five days until I race. I had a swim this morning and felt great. I can’t believe how quick our journey to this point has been. I am only days away from the moment I have been waiting for all my life. I felt no different than normal, just full of confidence that I had built inside me for the last twelve months I knew I had done everything possible and I’m ready. No nerves or excitement just an inner peace that I was content with. Nothing else could be done it was now a case of mind over matter.

August 11

My full day of rest so I decorated our apartment and my room with Aussie flags, streamers, balloons, motivational quotes, photos and messages and cards from home. I had a massage, explored the village and checked my emails.

August 12

Had a great sleep last night and did some fast 50’s in the competition pool. Tonight Roy and HG from the Olympic Dream visited the village. We had an Aussie team get together and a Greek barbecue. I would have preferred steak, snags, onions and a few prawns but still enjoyed the Greek food with two great Australian comedians.

August 13

The day of the opening ceremony, but for me it meant a light swim and the traditional shave down, but no marching. I waved to everyone who was off to the big parade, including my coach and my dad. I’m sure they were going to have a great night. It was something I had planned to miss for a long time. I wanted an Olympic medal real bad and I used that time to rest. I watched the Aussies enter the stadium what an awesome moment, and then I hit the sack.

August 14

Day one of swimming competition and it was a thrill to watch my teammates race and for me to get used to the competition set up.

I had a light swim before starting my visualisation of swimming fast. We cheered Ian and Grant on to our first Gold and Silver in the 400m freestyle and we all stayed on to watch the women’s 4x100m relay win Olympic Gold in a new world record. What an amazing moment for the sport of swimming and for Australian women’s sport.

It may have taken years to build up the women’s team but it was well worth it. I felt so proud to be a woman, an Aussie woman. I’m glad my mum was there to see such a fairytale swim by the women’s team. I have a really good feeling that our girls can really shine this week.

It was time to calm down, relax and chill out from the great high we had just experienced. Tomorrow I would make my Olympic debut.

August 15

This is it my first race of the Games. I had a great sleep and I was up at 7:40am for a shower and off to breakfast in the Dining Hall with Linda Mackenzie. Cereal, juice, toast and I added a coffee for a bit of spark – my first in weeks and not as good as our new coffee machine at home, but it did the job.

We jumped a bus; I plugged my I Pod in and listened to some R & B the whole way to the pool. I then stretched and went to the toilet three times. I warmed up with a 400m freestyle easy, 5x100m freestyle/IM hard pace, opening up all my systems, the 200m drill, 4x50m build (two speed drill, explode 4-5 strokes, 2x25s dive – times: 14.9, 14.2).

My warm up for my Olympic debut was over and it was time to suit up and get ready.

I was in the first seeded heat in lane four.

I wanted to set a good pace that the girls could chase in the following heats. I felt great from the dive. Twenty strokes for the first lap and then 22 and half the second – 32.0 seconds split and 35.3 coming home for a 1:07.31, a nice comfortable heat swim. I was glad it was over and the taper had worked and now I could focus on technique for my semi-final and final. I did an interview with Kieren Perkins for Channel Seven and then wound around the mixed zone and spoke to the waiting Australian media. I told them the atmosphere was electric and the pool was so blue and the sun so bright. I saw myself on the big screen and I couldn’t believe it was me. I had just won my heat at the Olympics and it was great. I wanted more of this feeling. I swam down and had a rub.

The afternoon went pretty quickly. I had my routine sleep and went to our team meeting before preparing for the semi-final that night. I arrived at the pool, stretched, dived in for my warm up and I have to admit, I felt like crap. That afternoon the wind had picked up and things started to mess with my head.

Tried to be positive about the wind and the storm forecast but deep down I was concerned about how it would affect my performance.

I had changed my stroke but it wasn’t that low that I could dodge the wind.

I didn’t want it to, but it was playing on my mind.

No matter what level you swim at or compete in sport, negative thoughts do come into play and Sunday the 15th of August 2004 they were overtaking the positive ones.

My 100s in warm up which I use to open up my system felt terrible and were five seconds slower than the morning times.

My stroke wasn’t coming as easy.

I had gone from feeling fantastic in the heats, swimming in the sun, perfect outdoor conditions to the opposite in the evening – cold, cloudy, dark, windy. That morning I wore a t-shirt but now I had a full tracksuit and wet weather jacket on.

I did not feel that good and I really wasn’t nervous.

I started stressing out – no nerves, no nothing, no excitement, and no anxiety attacks.

It could have been the local district meet for all I knew.

I had a can of Red Bull and listened to some pump up tunes. Still nothing.

I hoped it would come with Thommo’s pre-race talk or if not in the marshalling area.

I watched semi-final one and Leisel was awesome, breaking the Olympic record and Sarah Poewe from Germany also improved on her heat time.

I thought that’s OK, I’ve already gone 67.3 – I just have to improve on that.

Walking out for the semi-final was strange. I still had no pre-race nerves.

The gun went after the starter had once again held the start, a pattern we had seen in all the heats, semi-finals and finals.

My start wasn’t that fast and I panicked with a few short strokes. I turned second at the 50m mark and I could see the US girls Amanda Beard and Tara Kirk on the turn and I panicked again as I was really keen to win the semi.

My strokes started to rate up and shorten up.

I wasn’t feeling comfortable and really felt like I was under a lot of pressure from both sides of me, especially the last five metres. I touched the wall to see I hadn’t won the semi.

Tara won the semi and I had swum slower than the heat clocking 67.7 – half a second slower and really not what I was looking for.

On a positive side I had just made my first Olympic final.


The day I had been waiting for all my life had arrived. I had a good chat to Petria Thomas about the negativity I had gone through the previous night and she was great. Petria was one of my room mates and someone who I have admired all my career and she had started out with two gold medals and she told me I had done the work and to forget about the semi-final and tonight was going to be my night.

I had a light swim in the morning, lunch, and a traditional afternoon pre-race sleep, had a chat to Jared back in Melbourne, listened to my I Pod the whole way to the pool on the bus. The warm up felt great, Thommo gave me my final chat, I went to marshalling, walked out, the crowd was going off, I looked up at the team, saw dad looking down and he gave the Hanson family “cooee” from one side and mum gave it from the other.

I looked down the lane, knowing that this was my time to shine. My confidence was growing with every name being announced, waiting to wave to the Olympic Games crowd when Brooke Hanson (Australia) is called.

I cracked my toes, slapped my thighs and arms to fire them up into action – it’s time to GO HARD! I said to myself this is it Brooke, let’s fight these girls to the finish.

My key words were – strength and power as I again looked at the blue line of “lucky lane six” the same lane that Jon Sieben had Duncan Armstrong had won Olympic gold medals from in 1984 and 1988.

Would this be my lucky lane too?

The first 50m felt great and I turned and saw the girls to my right, Tara and Leisel underwater and I though to myself – this is it, you’ve done a million backend 50s in this preparation – but this is the most important one.

I knew I had to keep it together over the final 20 metres, when it really started hurting, remembering the key words, “long and strong” – get to the wall – I knew I had to do the best finish of my life.

I turned to the scoreboard not knowing where I had come, as I couldn’t line up the names, lanes and finishing positions. I could see that the other Chinese girl from lane eight had been disqualified. I was looking up at the other board thinking I had come sixth – but I was actually in lane six.

I looked up at the team and dad, asking, did I get second?

Then I looked at Thommo (smiling) holding two fingers up saying “second”.

It wasn’t until I swam under the lane ropes, looking up at the scoreboard, that I fully realised I had just won the Olympic silver medal.


All I can remember is talking to Kieren Perkins for the Channel Seven broadcast with Leisel and seeing Elka Graham staring at me through the hessian and we touched hands, that was a special moment. Elka you’re the best.

I was then greeted by the Australian media in the mixed zone with Nicole Livingstone (the last Victorian woman to win an individual swimming medal in Barcelona in 1992) leading the questioning.

Dad, in his role as an MLO on the Olympic team was waiting and he gave me a hug and I just kept looking at him in disbelief and then my brother Kurt, who was in the mixed zone as a working journalist also gave me a hug before Thommo and David Wilson (Willow) our team manager and another Nunawading boy also gave me the biggest hugs.

I then really enjoyed my medal presentation, taking my own photo, before a swim down, drug test, press conference, a photo shoot with dad, Dave Mason and Kurt in front of lucky lane six, a teary reunion with mum who gave me the lucky Aussie scarf, before the security kicked all the parents out, and then a host of radio interviews on the way home.

Dad and I walked through the Village at around midnight and when we got back, it was so quite and peaceful. He kissed me good night, before we ventured off into our rooms. I still had the laurel wreath on my head and the medal around my neck.

It was still around my neck when I woke up the next day. I had to make sure I wasn’t dreaming.


This was a day of rest and it was time to get my head around what I had achieved and what lay ahead with the 200m and hopefully the 4x100m medley relay.


I felt good in the heat of the 200m breaststroke and also in the semi-final and was stoked to make my second Olympic final, but I have to admit I was stressing over the relay selection and didn’t get any sleep at all.


I had a light swim in the morning, lunch, a sleep (but very restless) before going to the team meeting. I ended up eighth in the final tonight, which I was happy with, but I was exhausted emotionally. I was told by the medley relay coach Alan Thompson that I had been chosen to swim the heat of the relay the next morning, joining, Giaan Rooney, Jessicah Schipper and Alice Mills. I still wasn’t out of the running for the final but to have to get my head and body around swimming fast in the morning would take some doing. I was determined to do the best possible job for the girls and the Australian Olympic Swim team. We clocked one of the fastest times in history – the fourth best all time in a heat and I clocked the fastest ever time by a breaststroker in a relay heat – 1:07.40. But I knew then that it would not be good enough for a place in the final.


This afternoon they announced the 4x100m medley relay team at our team meeting and my name was not read out. The coaches had gone with Leisel, which must have been an agonising decision. One way or the other, Australia was going to have one of the fastest breaststrokers in the world. Leisel and I have pushed each other race-in-race-out for four years and that’s why Australian female breast stroking is so good and it’s why Australian women’s swimming is so good – it’s competitive. I was bitterly disappointed that I did not get that spot, believing that finishing second in the pressure-cooker atmosphere of the final would earn me that right. And I reckon it’s only human to feel that way. But it wasn’t to be and I congratulated Leisel on her selection and I knew the girls – Giaan, Leisel, Petria and Jodie would come together for a great swim.


This was a special day, as I had the chance to invite mum and Kurt into the Olympic Village and show them my room and shout them to lunch in the Dining Hall. They loved it. The final night was awesome with Hacky proving why he is the absolute swimming machine and the girls came together for a sensational world record in the relay. I joined my other teammates in the grandstand and yelled my lungs out for them. But deep inside I was hurting. It was also the day that the “Leisel and Brooke” rivalry started to hot up in the media. Sure we didn’t talk for a few days and when you are emotionally upset you can say some things in the heat of the moment that you later regret. But believe me it is no big deal and these things happen in sport and you get over them and move on and that is what we have done. That night Leisel approached me and we had a big hug after our team meeting and we are very much on talking terms again. I have to mention the emotional speech I gave for Sarah Ryan, Petria Thomas and Todd Pearson at our final team meeting, after the swimming. These guys are legends and we are all going to miss them. It was tears all round.

AUGUST 27 and 28

Now it is time to party. The pick of the parties was no doubt the MTV Speedo bash and the Sports Illustrated party where we really let our hair down.

I got the chance to meet so many cool people like Danni Minogue, boxing great Evander Holyfield, the Princess of Denmark Mary Donaldson , Michael Phelps , my hero Jenny Thompson from the USA  and we danced and ate prawns and had the time of our lives.


The night of closing ceremony and what a blast. I was so excited after missing the opening ceremony that Elka and I were so pumped. It was great to walk around the Stadium with Dad, who has now been to six Olympics but equally special to see Mum and Kurt in the stands and I have to thank my good friends Ada Kok (Olympic champion) and Celia Muir from Speedo International for getting Mum and Kurt their tickets. It made my night and was a fitting celebration for the best times of my life.


Tonight Leisel and I walked and talked all night and had our photos taken with all the girls. The night before we had been out dancing together, having an absolute ball. I know we are going to keep each other honest over the next four years – although Leisel, I think I leave the 200 metres to you and Amanda, these 26-year-old legs are going to concentrate on the 50 and the 100m from here on in.

Finally, thank you to everyone who has helped me make it possible, especially everyone at Nunawading, my family, my sponsors, Australian Swimming and in particular the Australian Olympic Committee – what a blast!


Australian Olympic Committee Fundraising Dinner Message

Brookes message to the Australian Olympic Committee fundraising dinner two months prior to the Olympics:

Hi my name is Brooke Hanson and at 26 this is my 1st Olympics

“The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part”

I believe I have lived my whole life following the Olympic ideals. Although I just missed out in 1996 and again in 2000 it is these ideals which made my Olympic dream come true.

“The most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle”

It’s been a long and winding road for me.I’ve done it hard over the years but i’ve never given in.

If you want something bad enough(and i did)you will dedicate your life to achieving your ultimate goal.

“The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well”

The Olympic games means 26 years of hard work scarfice and determination

I believe the laps I’ve done I could have swam to athens and back.

So rest assured come August 14 2004 this proud aussie girl will be ready.




Hanson Off to Athens

Last night, Nunawading Swimming Club’s Brooke Hanson swam the best 100 metre breaststroke of her life at the 2004 Olympic Swimming Trials in her third attempt to qualify for the Olympics.

Hanson, spurred on by a huge cheer squad, was awesome beating world record holder and Olympic silver medallist Leisel Jones, touching the wall in a personal best time of 1.07.17.

Jones finished second in 1.08.07 to qualify for her second Olympics at the tender age of 18 but it was the effort by Hanson that had the attention of the electric crow d.

To qualify for her first Olympics at 26 is a remarkable achievement in itself, but when one considers that Hanson first represented Australia at the Commonwealth Games in 1994, and has kept her Olympic dream alive throughout 10 years and two failed attempts, it indicates the magnitude of her achievement.

“Definitely third time lucky,” Hanson said “Missing the 96 and 2000 teams just made me a stronger person.”

“To do that tonight is just fantastic for me.”

“It’s awesome to go a couple of 1.07s and know that’s right up there.”

Petria Thomas and Sarah Ryan are the only other female members of that Commonwealth Games team contesting these Trials and they both are duel Olympian’s, Thomas already earning a berth to her third Games this week.

The swim makes Hanson the fifth fastest swimmer of all time for the event and following the race Hanson thanked her coach Mark Thompson and her strength and conditioning coach Simon Moule for their training and support.

Hanson also thanked her sponsors Endless Spa Company for their support of her leading into the Trials.

Ian Hanson / Gary Barclay