We had the privilege to hear Elaka Whalan (nee Graham) speak about her swimming career, women and standing your ground. Her stellar swimming career saw her reach world #1 in her freestyle events bringing home medals from Olympics, World Championships, and Commonwealth Games. A wife to former 4-time water polo Olympian Thomas Whalan, they reside in Sydney with their three young children, and she has just launched out into her newest adventure as a businesswoman. Elka filled us in on her journey thus far.
The towel still gets a big workout these days but it's to wipe down our three children under five from the bath or shower. The goggles are still worn but only when I sneak out early before anyone wakes. The costume still fits purely because I work out and am disciplined to stay fit - I have to keep up with the trio troops! The adventures after two Olympics had taken me places my mind at 22 years of age could never have imagined.
I was so blessed to have met my husband at the Athens 2004 Olympics and in 2008 we married; meeting him was my Olympic Gold moment. Whilst Thomas went on to represent Australia in another two Olympics, I went on but on the other side as a media commentator, writing and being a part of the sporting media. I lived in Italy for 4 years and had a year in Spain Barcelona watching my husband play water polo as I grew my first round tummy.
It's now been ten years since I retired at twenty-four. The medals and moments of The Olympics, Commonwealth Games, World championships and Pan Pacific’s will never be forgotten BUT the real adventure started as I yearned to be a mother and wife. My discipline in swimming, the characteristics and qualities I built up through professional training has certainly shaped parts of who I am now as a young thirty-four year old; still loving life and just as excited for adventure than ever before.
We travel the world with the children, last year was six weeks around the US, and we took our middle son at nine months to Greece and Florence for four weeks. We are forever planning our next holiday be it a short trip to the south coast of NSW or our next big overseas trip. Travel is a foundation children under five from the pillar for ‘Team Whalan’ we love the bonding and uniting of the family that holidays bring. Traveling is freedom and freedom is love and joy. The sleep may be less but you live out of purely because I work out and am disciplined love and love out of tiredness.
The other thing that drives me is - I am beyond passionate for women. Especially the connection of females coming together to know their true worth and understand the value in who they are. Their sense of purpose and identity to be known and never being afraid to be bold in who they are called to be.
I've launched ‘Queenhood - For The Woman Who Knows Her Worth’. The four exciting pillars of the project are: motherhood, work hood, style, and fitness & health. These pillars represent real woman all mixed with a big dose of humour. Over the coming months we will be launching with events and great web content all with a positive spin.
So yes, life is certainly full but it challenges me to increase my capacity and make a difference. We are all gifted in areas and it's for us to share these gifts. I'm so excited to encourage others, lift them up, and be a cheerleader for who they are and called to be.
As for my sense of adventure, it's well and truly alive inside of me, my children have a great sense of spirit (ha ha) and my husband is up for the ride as we travel through this incredible life together. There is so much to see and learn and together we are better for it!
You can check out Elka’s project here: www.queenhood.com.au