Belinda (Bindy) Hocking dreamed of competing for Australia since she was little.
“I started swimming when I was four due to suffering from bad asthma. I remember watching the 2000 Sydney Olympics, I was 10 at the time, and thought ‘that is where I want to get to,’ not thinking it would actually ever happen. I made my first team, which also happened to be the Beijing Olympics, in 2008 when I was 17,” she said.
She is one now of the best swimmers in the world, having represented Australia in two Olympic Games, winning gold and bronze medals in the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, silver and bronze medals at World Championship meets and gold and silver medals at the Pan Pacific Championships.
Belinda was living in the Box Hill area when she decided to enrol in the Diploma of Events at Box Hill Institute.
“I was living down the street so I drove past the Institute all the time. I loved the idea of doing something that was really practical and wasn’t just theory-based.
“I went in and had a look around, and I really liked the thought of doing something hands-on, which is what Box Hill Institute does really well. Because of my background in swimming and events, I really wanted to keep following along the same path of Event Management.
“The practical nature of the Diploma was great. We got to meet and work with real industry professionals, experiences like these are priceless. We also got to plan and organise our very own event. I was lucky enough to work with a group that helped raise more than $1000 for Oxfam,” Belinda said.
It wasn’t always easy juggling studying and swimming at the same time.
“I was very lucky that I only had classes once a week that fitted quite well into my training. However, I was away for about 6-8 weeks during the course. This did become quite difficult especially while trying to organise my event, but the staff were very supportive. There were a lot of Skype meetings, and it was a very good learning experience to be able to make things still run efficiently even though I was away,” she said.
She feels that having a defined goal makes it easier when things don’t go according to plan.
“I have had many shoulder problems during my career, due to the amount of times my arms turn in the water. Setbacks are easier to deal with if you have goals you want to achieve, because they allow you to focus on what is next, instead of thinking about things that you can’t do at the moment. You are better off thinking about the future instead of staying in the past,” she says.
Belinda can’t stress the need for education, even for elite athletes, strongly enough.
“I think that having work experience and an education is probably the single most important thing for athletes to have, especially once their career is finished. Unfortunately we can’t be athletes for our entire lives, so it is very important to have something to move onto once our sporting careers are done.”
Belinda is currently taking a break from swimming to assess what she wants to do in the future.
“I am currently enrolled in the Deakin University Primary School Teaching degree, majoring in public relations. While I hope to still get into Event Management, I have always been interested in teaching. I always like to keep my options open,” she said.
After swimming for 20 years, and reaching the highest level in the world at only 24 years of age, there’s little doubt Belinda Hocking will achieve her goals and excel in whichever career she chooses.