26th February 2020
We sat down with Brenden post shoot to find out more about his journey as an athlete, what motivates him and how we can all work on shining a greater light on the upcoming 2020 Tokyo Paralympics.
Having recently launched our latest new Autumn campaign – Denim For Every Body, we sat down with Paralympic swimmer, Brenden Hall, after pulling him away from his hectic training schedule in the pool, to take a dive into the mind of an athlete post campaign shoot, swapping his swimmers for denim here's what he had to say...
How did you first get into swimming? Tell us more about your journey as an athlete and when you decided to pursue swimming competitively?
My parents really loved the beach and that's where I found myself growing up a lot. They wanted me to be water safe properly I guess so I started getting some serious swimming lessons as all youngsters should. After being exposed to the Sydney Paralympics in 2000 the year after I lost my leg, it opened my eyes and I think planted the seed of a dream. At the age of about 11 I decided with my then coach that I might actually have a shot of making something of this, so we aimed for Beijing and the dream became a reality 4 years later.
What has been your career highlight?
It's always a tough one for me because there are so many. The one that tops the cake though is winning my first individual Paralympic Gold medal for my 400m Freestyle in 2012. It's a very tough moment to top purely because it is your first one. I think that would definitely be the standout for me.
What keeps you motivated when you don’t feel like training?
I just remember that in the end I am doing this for a reason and because I love it. Sometimes the journey might get pretty tough but it’s all about reminding myself that once I get to the destination it will all be worth it. I had a bit of a setback last year and didn’t perform as well as I wanted too. It gave the biggest boost of motivation I’ve had in a long time. I’m now always switched on and ready to go. Sometimes I might not feel like it with being sore and tired, but I know that I’m chasing something and in the end it will all be worth it.
What is your favourite part about what you do?
For me, I absolutely love the water. The training is probably my favourite part. I know it’s probably the part that makes you feel the worst, but I just love the grind of going up and down that black line every day. For me the travel and medals are like the icing on the cake I love them, but they wouldn’t be worth it without all the hard work that is put into it.
Favourite things to do outside of swimming?
I love going to the beach with my wife with a great book and relaxing under the umbrella. I also enjoy a good swim in the surf because it can be unpredictable. We enjoy going on adventures, hikes and walks up mountains. As much as I might complain during those outings, they’re always a lot of fun. I also do enjoy having a good coffee and treat after adventures like that, who doesn’t? haha
What more can we do as a community to shine a greater light on the Paralympics?
There’s always a tonne of stuff that can be done. It’s just about making sure that we keep the conversation about the Paralympics ongoing. It’s amazing how much it has grown in the last 13 years that I have been involved with it but it also amazes me that you still come across groups of people who have no idea what it is. We just have to make sure that we talk about it whenever the opportunity arises. By being able to showcase to the world the amazing athletes that are involved in it and allow them the chance to be seen by the community just as much as our able-bodied counter parts. By involving them in opportunities like the one I’ve just had for Riders allows us to take a step in the right direction of opening the conversation about just how normal and elite our Paralympic athletes are.
Who/what is your biggest inspiration?
For me coming through as a youngster I always looked to the greats like Ian Thorpe and Michael Phelps. Once I opened my eyes to Paralympic swimming though, it was Matt Cowdrey. How he carried himself as a person inside and outside the sporting arena was how I envisioned an elite athlete to be. I was very grateful for the opportunity to become one of his teammates and call him a best mate.
What would your one piece of advice be to someone wanting to be a Paralympian?
My message usually is around if you find something you love/are passionate about and you always have fun what more reasons do you need to continue it or pursue it. Because if you maintain a positive mindset towards that passion anything can be achievable. I always leave them with this bit of advice "To go on to greater things in life you must challenge yourselves at this very level where it is only just the beginning. It is better to aim high and just fail that shot than to aim low and exceed beyond that target as that is just the easy option in life and isn’t deemed challenging".
We’re passionate about inspiring people to feel good in their own skin, so we always ask our interviewees what they think is the most important thing when it comes to leading a healthy lifestyle, both physically and mentally?
I think for me, the crucial part is you have to be happy and enjoying the important parts of life. You can be as healthy as ever in your lifestyle physically but none of it counts if you’re mentally suffering. Out there for everyone is the correct lock and key combination that lets you live life to the fullest. You can’t rush into finding it, one day it just finds you and you realise it just flows easier. Focus more about living within the moment, don’t dwell on that past, what’s done is done. You take a moment to reflect learn from it and then move on. Try not to get caught up in what the future will look like, just enjoy what’s currently in front of you a day at a time. Focus on what is important to you and what makes you happy then go with it. It’s also about surrounding yourself with the right people that help keep you in that healthy mindset. It can be difficult getting all the right components together to ensure you get to that point but once you do the feeling within yourself is never better.
You obviously spend a lot of time in the water, but when you're not training what's your go-to, weekend outfit?
Ooh tough question, it really depends on what I’ve got planned for the weekend ha. I’d probably say my go to outfit though is probably a pair of walk shorts with a good casual tee and some connies. Otherwise if it’s the beach, classic boardies and a tee. If I want to upscale it a bit, I might throw on a buttoned linen shirt to mix it up plus if I go out for dinner or have an event I love to through on some chinos or jeans with boots.
Skinny or relaxed jeans? Skinny
Shirt or tee? Tee
Jeans or chino? Chinos
Pool or beach? Why do you make it so hard I love both!
Sunrise or sunset? Sunset