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24 May – a perfectly normal day among many in a calendar year, but one on which, nearly two decades apart, a current and future Australian swimming champion was born.

Young South Maroubra SLSC sensation, Mia Hoo would love nothing more than to follow in the footsteps of her hero, Emma McKeon. They already share a birthday and a Surf Life Saving Club, and if results in junior competition are anything to go by, they may well share in a collection of Olympic Gold medals down the track.

“I’ve always been around the water,” Mia said.

“I love surf events and I love being in the pool.”

It’s a love borne from early exposure and cultivated by enjoyment and success.

Mia’s mother, Rebecca, said it was always a given her children would learn how to swim. Little did she know that what started as an educational experience would blossom into a burning passion.

“She has always been a water kid,” she mused.

“We had a plunge pool where we used to live and she could dive to the bottom and pick up things before she could walk!

“When we decided to get our children involved in nippers, we ended up joining South Maroubra as they’re one of the only surf clubs in the Eastern Suburbs with a rock pool.

“Until you’re in under 8/9s you’re really only on the sand, but they can learn in the rock pool from under 6s there.

“There was no way you could take her to the beach on a Sunday and not have her in the water, she loved the water too much.”

South Maroubra SLSC is the surf club famously founded by Rick McKeon – the grandfather of Emma.

The McKeon family has strong ties to the surf club, and a lot of Emma’s success, most recently collecting a staggering haul of seven medals at the Tokyo 2021 Olympic Games, can be attributed to her training and development through the club.

Now the latest beneficiary of those development pathways, Mia is excelling both the ocean and the pool.

“Mia’s pretty strong in all of her events in the pool, but at present breaststroke is more exceptional than anything else,” Rebecca said.

“And then for Nippers, while over the last year we have had a lot of events cancelled, in the four or five carnivals that did go ahead she won all but one of her water events.”

While Mia is destined, surely, for great success, she isn’t letting any of it go to her head. Despite her tremendous results and growing list of achievements in the water, she’s still a kind and caring kid.

When the announcement was made that Brisbane would host the 2032 Olympic Games, Mia’s face shone with excitement. Not because she could now aim to compete at a home Olympics, but because if she qualified, her nan, who can no longer fly, would be able to drive to her events and see her in person.

“I really want her to be able to watch me,” she said.

Thursday 12 August 2021