‘I learnt to swim on my childhood Big Lap … and I never stopped!’

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Maddy Gough on the Australian Swimming Team
Australian Dolphin learnt to swim in Outback rock pools. PIC: Getty Images

Maddy Gough fell in love with the water while on a two-year camping trip … now she’s on the Australian Dolphins swimming team!

‘I learnt to read while travelling Australia, I learnt how to ride a bike while travelling Australia … and I learnt how to swim while travelling Australia.
I was four when my parents, my two brothers and I set off in our 60 Series LandCruiser on our big adventure. We towed a heavy-duty box trailer and had two tents … one massive one for longer stays, and one smaller one for stops of just two or three nights.

We lived like that for two years and I once famously asked my mum: ‘Was I born on the trip?’ We crossed creeks, climbed mountains, saw eagles and dingoes, took long bushwalks, and met so many different people.

maddy gough swimming

Maddy (on the right) loved campfires with her brothers, Oliver and Dominic

We went to Cape York, the Kimberley, Tasmania, and the Red Centre. We took rough tracks and ate tinned tuna and pasta night after night and, while I loved everything about it, I mostly loved the water. We swam at rock pools and rivers, beneath waterfalls and in the warm waters of the Indian Ocean. I laughed and played and splashed with my brothers Oliver and Dominic and I think I was as happy as it is possible to be.

Eventually though, the endless trip ended and we returned to a home I didn’t remember in the village of Karangi, near Coffs Harbour in New South Wales. It was a big re-adjustment, but one thing that was always there for me was the water.

I immediately signed up for ‘proper’ swimming lessons, and then swimming squads, and I knew I was where I belonged. We moved to the Gold Coast when I was 15 so I could follow my

Maddy Gough swimming at Bell Gorge

The waters at Bell Gorge were crystal clear and perfect for swimming.

swimming dream and I made my first Australian team. Last year, I finished fifth in the 1500m freestyle at the World Championships in South Korea.

I dream of representing my country at next year’s Tokyo Olympics, and hope that swimming will take me many different places beyond that. And I hope too that, one day, it will take me back to where it all began for me … to places like Fruit Bat Falls, Ningaloo Reef, Bell Gorge and Douglas Hot Springs.

I still read most days, I still ride my bike some days, but I swim every day … and I always will.’


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