Brooke Bennett is a distance swimming icon. She claimed gold at the 1996 Olympic Games in the 800m freestyle, edging Olympic star Janet Evans, and sealed her name in swimming lore at the 2000 Olympics, sweeping both the 400m and 800m freestyle.
Now Brooke’s a new mom. On Monday, October 20th at 5:46pm she gave birth to her baby boy, Bas (pronounced boss) Maxwell Frioud. Bas was 7.4 lb and 20 inches.
“You hear that cry and hold him for the first time,” Brooke said by phone from the hospital, “and it’s a whole new level of love and affection.”
Brooke officially announced her comeback to the competitive swimming December 20th, 2013, stating that she would focus on open water. After building a successful career as a television journalist for Bright House Sports Network, she felt there was more to do, more goals to reach, and she set her sights on the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio. Then, fresh off her engagement to Jeremy Frioud, Brooke made another announcment in May, 2014, “I’m going to be a mommy.”
“The pregnancy wasn’t the easiest,” Brooke explained. “I’ve been out of the water, out of training for 22 weeks. That’s the longest I’ve ever gone without some form of exercise.”
Weeks 32 to 35 were especially challenging. Brooke made a routine trip to the doctor, and they checked her into the hospital for three weeks.
“My amniotic fluid had dipped below 23, and I was having contractions. Not good. It took time and patience before they allowed me to go home.”
Brooke’s final weeks of pregnancy went much smoother. She even got back into the pool for an easy 400 to 600 meters each day.
“She’s won three Olympic gold medals, swam the 24-mile Tampa Bay Marathon,” said father, Jeremy Frioud, “and none of that is nearly as impressive as what I’ve seen from her over the last nine months.”
Jeremy, the head football coach of Northeast High School in Saint Petersburg, Florida, was driving to practice, a little tired, but clearly elated to be a dad. During Brooke’s comeback, he’s been on the pool side of things too, someone easy to pick out in a crowd. He looks like tarzan’s tougher bother, tall, massively built, with long ringlets of hair to his shoulders.
“I’ve coached NFL football players, one of which was in the NFL Pro Bowl last year. None of them can hold a candle to her toughness.”
Brooke had c-section, major surgery, and she’s listening to her doctor, taking it very slowly on her return to the pool.
“It’s day-by-day right now, just enjoying this new experience, but I plan to be back at it by the first of the year,” Brooke said. “I signed up for a 5k, the Tampa Bay Frogman Swim on January 11th. I need to have a goal, and this is a good one. The swim’s a charity, support for the Navy Seal Foundation.”
Open Water Nationals are April of next year, and it’s on Brooke’s radar, but for now she’s happy to be a mom, and thankful for Jeremy’s support.
“Jer-Bear, that’s what I call him, he’s changed all of the dirty diapers. I’ve only changed one wet one…with many, many more to come. We’re just thankful Bas is finally here and we love him very much.”