How has this morning ritual changed your life?
It has changed my life in so many ways. It has given me a sense of belonging to an amazing community of like-minded ocean loving souls; it has kept me active; it makes me appreciate nature and the beauty of it; how good it is to see the start of a new day and it has given me a reason to get up in the morning when life has gotten me down. It’s made me appreciate what an amazing place we live in and the horizon just gives you an open-hearted feeling that makes you feel like everything is going to be okay. Ultimately, it cleanses me. Just keep on swimming!
What’s a typical breakfast for you?
A couple of Weetabix, yoghurt with honey and some strawberries/blueberries or sometimes it’s tuna on toast.
Can you tell us about your childhood?
I grew up in Killara and am one of four kids. I have two brothers and a sister. I was lucky to have such a wonderful and loving childhood with many outdoor camping trips in the holidays all around Australia. Every Christmas in the early years we would spend most of it at Avoca and then later at Hawks Nest. I remember all four of us swimming in the ocean at Avoca from dawn to dusk. We couldn’t get enough of it and there was always a very competitive family bodysurf comp that we all still love to do today. First is the one who eats the most sand! I remember dad coming in to give me a backrub every night and the beautiful feeling of just slipping into sleep afterwards and then him opening my curtains for swimming training at 5am and saying “RISE AND SHINE SOPHIA!” to my sister.
I remember my younger brother Forbes never ever being angry. He had this calm, steady nature and a magical mathematical mind, which he was so humble about. I remember my older brother Gussy writing poetry that was so incredibly moving that I was in awe of his way with words. I just wanted to write like he did.
I remember mum being the most incredible Christmas tree decorator and loving the smell of real Christmas tree pine. She was also so good at celebrating moments in life and making things magical, especially birthday parties where we would dive in the pool for magic coins which were bronze $2 marked with a green cross. I also remember her wiping away a tear from my eye when I was around four and giving me a beautiful warm hug.
But the most incredible part of my childhood is my beautiful sister Olivia who was born profoundly deaf. Upon finding out when Liv was almost one-year-old, the specialist said to mum and dad to get prepared for the fact that she would never speak or go to a normal school. Well, there was no way they were going to let that happen I remember seeing my beautiful mum spending hours upon hours in the kitchen just teaching Livvy the sound of one letter until she could pronounce it correctly. In time, due to mum and dad’s incredible perseverance and some amazing speech therapists, my sister learnt to lip read and went to Loreto Kirribilli in high school where she got an amazing TER in the 80s… incredible given she didn’t follow half of what the teacher was saying. I’ll never forget seeing her being bullied at primary school and seeing children all tapping their ears around her making fun of her hearing aids. I remember her curled up in a corner crying and I just bundled her up and wanted to take her as far away as possible. I remember thinking, ‘why can life be so cruel’. Now I know it’s how you rise from these situations and how you fight back that is the leveller. My parents and my sister have taught me that no matter what, you must keep going and keep trying. Do not stay lying down, open the curtains and get out. As a result, she is one of the most inspiring people in the world today. She has set up her own foundation called Hear For You, which connects deaf teenagers with deaf adult mentors who help them to build resilience and get through tough times from their own experiences. She is an amazing loving mum to her three beautiful children and here is the moment after she had a cochlear implant (a surgically implanted electronic device that provides a sense of sound to a person who is profoundly deaf or severely hard of hearing in both ears).