"I never thought: 'I am going to raise my child to be an Olympian'."

Olympic swimmer Madeline Groves scooped two silver medals in Rio and her mum, Claire Brinkman, was watching in the stands.

“I never, ever thought: ‘I am going to raise my child to be an Olympian’,” said Brinkman.

“I always wanted to raise my child to be happy and independent and that was my goal. How they choose to do that is up to them.”

Out of her three children, her only daughter was the sportiest.

“She did dancing, she did hockey, she did water polo. There was stuff happening in her life every day of the week. She had friends, she had sleepovers and when she started to take swimming more seriously when she was in her teens, there were massages, there were physio appointments, there was the podiatrist – you name it,” she explains.

“But this isn’t anything unusual to any other parent. Just about every kid has appointments with podiatrists and so on.”


Madeline Groves posted a message of support on Instagram. 

Brinkman admits the early years involved a lot of juggling. There were Madeline’s swim commitments and her siblings, Matthew and Andrew, had social lives and interests too.

The mother of three knew there was real potential in her daughter, but she never forced Madeline into the pool.

“I would set the alarm and go in and wake her up [for training] but she would bounce out of bed.

“I never, ever, had to push Maddie and I believe very strongly in that. I always said that once I have to nag her to get out of bed, I won’t be waking her up. She’s always been very self-driven and my job was purely to support what she wanted to do. I never ever pushed her, I never had to.”

The Brisbane mother put years of support into her daughter’s swimming career but believes her commitment is no different to any parent.

“You can’t put yourself first, so if you want to go somewhere or do something you can’t necessarily do that because you have to put your child’s commitment first,” she said.

“But it wasn’t hard at all. That’s what goes into being a good mum I think; as a parent your job is to do whatever it takes to parent your child.”


  Madeline with her mother Claire. Photos supplied. 

Her 21-year-old daughter has just picked up a silver medal in Women's 200m butterfly, and helped bring home second place for the Women's 100m medley relay.

Groves' butterfly swim was a fingernail away from gold - she missed out by just 0.03 of a second.

"We certainly always knew she had potential. She was always a fish right from an early age but you just have to wait and see what happens. Having talent isn’t enough to make you successful you also have to line up all your ducks.

"Talent is just one thing.  You have to have the work ethic, the determination, the desire to want this. You have to have the right support around you. You have to have good coaching.

"You have to make sure you have plenty of sleep, and particularly when they’re teenagers they can’t have late nights and go out partying with their friends.  They have to be really disciplined. (Post continues after gallery.)


"Even though we always knew she had loads of potential, it’s really up to them to see what they want to do with that."

The life of an Olympian mother isn't always easy, and Brinkman has ridden the roller-coaster ride of emotions from the heartbreak of when swims don’t go to plan to the latest medal ceremony in Rio.

"Any one of us could be an Olympic mum. It’s no different to driving to the swimming carnival. When you love and support your child, you do whatever it takes."

It just happens on this occasion, this amazing mum has helped raise an Olympian, and there's no overlooking that achievement.

"I am bursting with pride, I am so proud and excited for her."