Three-time USA Olympic swimming gold medalist Brooke Bennett finds herself in a different element—on-air.
Story by: Erika Vidal Holmes
Since hanging up her swimsuit a couple of years ago, Olympic gold medalist Brooke Bennett hasn’t had much time to come up for air. After recovering from a serious car accident last October that sidelined her for 12 weeks due to a broken pelvis, the longtime Valrico resident embarked on a new career in January as a broadcaster/anchor covering Bay-area high school sports for Bright House Sports Network. And in May, two days after her 30th birthday, Brooke was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame.
“The last year has been so up and down for me,” she says. “My whole life was about working out,” Brooke says. “Now it revolves around a career—a really good one. I want to be able to do both.”
A competitor at heart, Brooke is no stranger to fighting for what she wants. Here, she talks about balancing her career, beauty, health and fitness, as well as her latest project, a cookbook.
EVH: After being in workout mode all day every day to being in front of a camera, how has your newfound career affected your beauty routine?
BB: I’ve always had a good fashion sense. I think I learned that from my mom. She was always very put together and fashionable. My career was to be in a pool, so I was probably known most for sopping wet hair and smelling like chlorine. When you are in front of a camera, you want to come off as looking perfect, but I like to keep my own style.
EVH: What’s your fashion philosophy?
BB: I go with what looks fun. I buy things then piece them together. I always say I can put together an outfit in my closet that I’ve never worn before out of marrying stuff that has hung for five or six years.
EVH: How has being a former high school athlete influenced the way you do your job?
BB: For me it’s the learning phase right now. For so long I was on the other side of the camera. Now, I sit on the other side and I tell the story. My goal as I further my career is to use the knowledge that I have being in one seat and take it to the other seat. When things are not told exactly the way you are hoping or not perceived the way you want it to be, it can hurt. I want the athletes to know I respect them because I’ve been in their position.
EVH: Do you miss swimming?
BB: I do. I was competitive by nature. I was this young pipsqueak that came up out of nowhere and wasn’t afraid to race, and as Janet Evans was coming to the end of her career, that was written about a lot. Many times it was written that I was disrespectful to her, and I was not. I was just a competitor. Athletes that came up behind me—the Kate Zieglers and the Katie Hoffs of swimming—they were probably saying, ‘I wanna kick Brooke Bennett’s butt.’ I do swim for fun now, for health and fitness purposes.
EVH: What kind of setbacks have you experienced after last October’s car accident?
BB: I was not allowed to start getting into a workout routine until January… I’m a big believer in mind over matter. I was off crutches in 10 weeks, and I was told it would be 12. At 30, maybe I’m starting to realize that my body needs more time to recover, and different fitness goals, different life aspects, and I’m enjoying it.
EVH: What are some of your favorite workouts?
BB: It’s between weight training and cardio for me.
EVH: What’s your pump-me up song?
BB: I would say from my swimming career until now, AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck,” the theme from the A-Team, and “Welcome to the Jungle” by Guns N’ Roses.
EVH: What can you tell us about the cookbook you’re working on?
BB: It’s a little bit of everything, from breakfast to dinners to baking. A lot of the inspiration came from going through my grandmother’s cookbook and looking at recipes I grew up eating and loved. I have a little bit of an issue with digesting dairy, so I cut out dairy and, of course, fats and sugars.
EVH: Any favorite recipes?
BB: My two favorites would be an oatmeal chocolate chip cookie and a crumbled blue cheese turkey burger.
EVH: Guilty Pleasure.
BB: Golden Oreos, Skittles and Doritos I can’t turn down.
EVH: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
BB: My biggest dream would be to be picked up to do swimming commentary or sideline pool interviews in London 2010. It’s going to be a long path… but Bright House Sports Network has given me an opportunity in a town that is home, and one of the things I’ve always learned is you never forget where you came from. I was just a little small-town girl out of Plant City with curly hair running around a farm. I would like for sports, health, fitness and nutrition to all inter-sync and maybe have my own show. The sky’s the limit. At 30, you look at your life, you want to have a family and have kids. Maybe a Prince Charming is out there and in 10 years I can be fully devoted to that. I don’t know… it depends on what’s going to fit perfectly in my life.
Brooke on what she never leaves home without
L’Oreal Telescopic Explosion mascara
Brooke has really short eyelashes and she says it’s a miracle product.
Mac Blot Powder/Pressed
Dove Clinical Protection Anti-perspiration and Deodorant
Jergens Natural Glow lotion
“The natural glow is a new favorite of mine because of all those years I was in the sun,” Brooke says. “I like to keep my healthy glow and I try to stay out of the sun.”
Estee Lauder double wear foundation
If you’re not a fan of foundation, Brooke says this is the product for you because it’s so light.
Lorac lip color in Crush
Colgate Wisp disposable toothbrushes
Neutrogena Visibly Firm Face Lotion
Redken Extreme Anti-snap leave-in treatment
“I’ve always used this It’s been ongoing since my days of swimming because it wouldn’t leave my hair funky.”
“One of my newest hair products since I’ve been in TV that I’ve absolutely loved, and you get to smell good.”)
Mac eye shadow
Her favorite right now is Stars ‘n’ Rockets (pictured here).
A lint remover for before she goes on-air.