Elka Whalan: The Dual Olympian Reveals Her Secrets To Finding Happiness
ELKA WHALAN IS A DUAL OLYMPIAN, A WIFE AND A MUM OF FOUR WHO JUGGLES LIFE AS A TV PRESENTER, WITH RUNNING A SUCCESSFUL BUSINESS AIMED AT INSPIRING AUSTRALIAN WOMEN. THE DYNAMIC 36-YEAR-OLD SPOKE WITH ANNA USHER ABOUT MANAGING HER BUSY CAREER, THE PRESSURES OF PARENTHOOD – AND HER SPECIAL CONNECTION WITH OUR LOCAL COMMUNITY.
Mosman Collective: Welcome Elka! Let’s start at the beginning. Where does the swimming gene come from? And were you always a water baby?
I grew up in Balgowlah Heights and as one of four kids, I was thrown into the water from an early age - at Manly Swim Club and Manly Nippers. I’ve always loved the water and it sounds weird but when I dive in it feels like home!
At the age of nine you knew you wanted to swim at an Olympic Games didn’t you?
I think I was in Year 4 when I announced it to my class! I went to Mackellar Girls High School, where the motto is "Mackellar girls can do anything". They totally supported me in going for my dream and I’ll never forget that.
Do you miss competing?
Not these days! Now I feel the same rush of nerves and energy when I'm on live TV. Having the power to reach into people’s lives at home and give them some light is a real honour for me.
You lived in Mosman for a few years, didn’t you?
We lived right on The Esplanade, just seconds away from the beach. We had an easy, airy apartment and it was home to our first-born baby. Balmoral is a magical place for both my husband Thomas and I – it always will be.
Do you have plans to come back?
It was a hard decision for us to leave Mosman - but the good news is we will hopefully return! Our daughters are enrolled at Queenwood, so in the next few years we’ll hopefully be permanent fixtures again. We live in the East now but the funny thing is we visit Mosman most weekends, there’s just such a great vibe in the local community.
"My absolute favourite place to visit in Mosman is East Coast Lounge"
Do you have a favourite restaurant or café in Mosman?
I’m a massive fan of Fourth Village and need to confess that their Rocky Road is unbelievably good! If you go there and find that it’s sold out, it’s because I’ve popped in and eaten it all ... so sorry about that! When it comes to coffee, my go-to place is The Source. But I think my absolute favourite place to visit in Mosman is East Coast Lounge, their food and homewares are hard to beat.
What do you love doing in Mosman on the weekends?
We love the Zoo, we love the new C3 Church that is run by wonderful friends. We love Balmoral Beach Club and of course we adore swimming with the kids. But mostly, you’ll find Team Whalan hooning up and down The Esplanade with the scooters and the bikes!
"Be a first rate you, not a second rate somebody else"
- Elka Whalan.
You are such a positive person and a wonderful role model. What motivational quotes inspire you?
I have three and they travel everywhere with me:
1. I will not allow anything outside of me to have an influence on me unless I choose to.
2. Be a first rate you, not a second rate somebody else.
3. You’ll never get a second chance to make a first impression.
Do you have a family motto?
Team Whalan doesn’t do CAN’T!
How did you meet your husband Thomas?
We met at the Athens Olympics in 2004. There was a spare seat in the computer room and it was next to him!
I was immediately attracted - and after the Olympics we caught up for a lunch that turned into a four-hour chat fest. We were truly best friends for nine months and didn’t even kiss!
Thomas is a four-time Olympian and was Captain of the Men’s Water Polo Team. I married my best friend and I’m still crazy in love with him. On Friday’s we have date night and I still get excited!
With four children and a pair of Olympians as parents, are the kids showing an interest in sports?
They all swim very well, but right now our daughter Nevada wants to be a fairy and fly!
Edison is our eldest son and he wants to be an Engineer and build Formula One cars.
His younger brother Presley wants to drive them!
And as for baby Evita, she’s only seven-months-old, so her expertise at the moment is breast feeding.
Juggling the kids, a marriage and a career can be stressful at the best of times. How do you manage?
Like so many other incredible women, I do it because I choose to and I want to.
Juggling all of this is not about me, it’s about doing something for others and I believe service is one of the best contributions you can make.
If I can help make a difference in the lives of others, especially my family, then I’m a happy woman.
"Mosman is one of the finest places in the world"
How do you stay so positive?
I choose joy. I choose to be happy. I have a strong faith - and I’m truly grateful for every single day. I’m in awe of people and their stories and to me, relationships are everything.
Tell us about QueenHood: A Dream Team of Women.
As women we need to be inclusive. We need to care for each other more and stop comparing. Together we are stronger.
Comparison is the thief of joy and women need to be bolder, braver and go for the dream that’s inside them. To see every woman walk in the world with confidence, is what I’m hoping to achieve.
What has the QueenHood community taught you?
That women yearn to be together to talk about their raw moments. That behind closed doors we all share struggles that many of us keep secret.
Things like identity loss, marriage breakdowns and various issues when it comes to kids are common problems that weigh heavily on women.
But by getting together and being together in our QueenHood tribe - we learn how to deal with things better and find the JOY in life again. We had a wonderful event in Mosman earlier this year and the stories that women shared were incredibly powerful. It's a wonderful thing being able to do something so positive.
Finish this sentence: Mosman is....
One of the finest places in the world - and I get to visit when ever I want. This I am so grateful for!
You are such a special and inspiring friend Elka - and an inspiration to women everywhere. Thank you so much for being part of our Mosman Collective community!
It's always an absolute delight Anna - we'll see you and our growing tribe of Mosman women at the next QueenHood event in 2018!