by Lynne Mowbray
Yamba SLSC spokesperson Jim Dougherty said that this year’s Ocean Swims event saw two former Olympians taking part.
“In the men’s we had Kirk Palmer who swam in the 4 x 200m freestyle relay at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and got a Bronze medal,” Mr Dougherty said.
“Kirk, who has recently moved to Maclean and is assistant swim coach at the Maclean pool, swam in the 2km event.
“In the women’s we had Brooke Hanson, who was a 2004 Olympian and got a Gold medal in the 4 x 100m medley relay in breaststroke back in the late 1990s-early 2000s.
Brooke has a bit of a connection with the Yamba Club in that her grandmother was a Teece and first cousin of the legendary (former lifesaver) Rex ‘Tiger’ Teece (a former Yamba SLSC champion).
“Brooke’s grandmother died a few weeks ago, so Brooke made the trip in memory of her grandmother,” he said.
Former Olympic Gold and Silver medallist swimmer Brooke Hanson spoke with the Independent about her family’s connection with Yamba.
Brooke said that she was back in Yamba to compete at this year’s Yamba Ocean Swim event as a tribute to her grandmother who had recently passed away.
“Yamba SLSC is really special to me,” Brooke said.
“I walk into the Surf Club and I’ve got family members up on the history board for what they’ve achieved and for me it feels like I’m home.
“My grandfather and grandmother’s side of the family grew up in this area and were members of Yamba SLSC and for me, I try and get back every single year and do the Yamba swim.
“I’m living at Currumbin on the Gold Coast now and I was a little bit concerned (this year) that the Queensland borders would close, and we wouldn’t be able to come down.
“But the borders are open and although we’re not (here) in as big a number as what we usually would, my husband Jared Clarke and eldest child Cooper came down with me and it was just wonderful to compete in the 700m and the Dash for Cash.
“To come away with a second in my age group, 40-49, is a wonderful achievement. But I’m not here for the places, I’m here to have fun,” she said.
Brooke said that she had just lost her 96-year-old grandmother, who grew up in this area.
“Yamba meant so much to her and her family and we decided that we would do this swim today in memory of her and in memory of the family and to make this Yamba Swim, her swim,” Brooke said.
“We’ll continue to come back every year and think of her and it’s wonderful to know that the traditions of my family members on the wall will continue through myself and also through my husband and my son now and we hope to keep the generations continuing to come back to Yamba, because it is such a special place, and the Yamba Swim is just so much fun.
“I walked onto the beach this year and saw swimmers that I haven’t caught up with for, like, 20 years; some of the girls that I used to train with and coaches that I haven’t seen for a long time – (former coach) Ruth Everuss is now over at Maclean and she’s coaching some of the up-and-coming swimmers.
“Yamba is a wonderful community.
“To come here and see so many active kids that are involved in ocean swimming and also surf life-saving, it makes me really proud that we have so many young athletes out there that one day might want to represent their country or aim to achieve their personal best and I think that’s what competing today’s all about – being the best that you can be and if I can inspire anyone to continue to just have a go and believe in their dreams and not give up, I think that’s what it’s about as well.
“It was lovely to be recognised and have some photos with members of the public and enjoy a great family day out,” she said.
This article appeared in the Clarence Valley Independent, 13 January 2021.