After being unable to advance through pool play at the Rio Olympics alongside former partner Lauren Fendrick, Brooke Sweat is preparing to make her second Olympic appearance. But this time, she'll be paired with beach volleyball legend Kerri Walsh Jennings in Tokyo. The duo took home a gold together at the 2019 Jinjiang Open, but they both have unfinished business at the Olympics after watching Laura Ludwig and Kira Walkenhorst win the women's beach volleyball title in Rio.
As part of our preparation for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, NBC Olympics sent questionnaires to a wide range of athletes to learn more about their lives on and off the field of play.
Here’s some of what we found out about Brooke Sweat:
Tell us about your family.
Parents: Harvey and René Youngquist
Brothers: Harvey Jr., & Brett
Sister: Holly (Herbers)
Spouse: Nick Sweat
Who do you live with?
I live in Redondo Beach. My husband lives back home in Florida. Right now two of my close friends from Florida are living with me in Redondo.
Parent influence on athletic career?
I wouldn’t be where I am today without my parents' love and support. My mom practically spent my entire childhood driving me and my siblings to and from practices and games. My dad was an athlete so he enjoyed teaching us and playing with us outside. My brothers never took it easy on me or my sister. We were just one of the boys to them. I think this is where and why I learned to be tough ... and stubborn. My parents traveled all over the country with me during club volleyball and college ball. Once I picked up beach volleyball after college, they came to all my Dig the Beach tournaments around Florida. I started playing AVP tournaments and there they were. I’ve been playing on the world tour for the last five years and they still make it to the majority of my tournaments. I love that they love supporting me and being there for me. I’m very blessed to be their daughter!
How has your hometown shaped who you are today?
Fort Myers will always be home. Doesn’t matter that I’ve lived in California for eight years ... Florida is home.
I was born and raised there and went to college right there. The community has always been so supportive of their athletes. I have felt the love and support ever since my high school days at Canterbury. That support exploded when FGCU added volleyball -- and I was the first commit! The community showed up to our games and really got behind us from the beginning. When I turned pro, everyone continued following me and sending their love and support as I pursued the 2016 Olympics. I’m still very close with the coaches and athletic department staff at FGCU. It means so much to me that my hometown is following my journey and supporting me as I chase another Olympics! I’m so proud to be from Fort Myers and representing them and the USA in beach volleyball all over the world. Thank you, home!
How much time do you train? How much do you sleep?
I’m usually awake between 6-7 daily, eat breakfast around 7:30, get to the beach around 8:10, practice 8:30-10:30. Grab lunch -- most days at Brother's, drive to Huntington Beach for therapy, usually 1-2:30. Days I’m in Huntington I will lift right before or after therapy. Lift and conditioning 2:30-4. Drive home, supper, video, bed around 9:30.
Days I don’t go to Huntington for therapy, I lift in Redondo Beach and will try to get in red light therapy and infrared sauna.
What's the most grueling workout you've ever done?
Probably conditioning in the sand in the Florida heat and humidity.
Have you ever been seriously injured?
I had a left knee injury in high school and ended up having surgery right after I graduated in 2004. That surgery didn’t help so I had another surgery in 2005.
I tore my rotator cuff in July of 2015. This was unfortunate timing as it was the middle of Olympic qualifying. Had to play through a few tournaments before getting it worked on. Didn’t get it repaired, just cleaned up so I could recover in time to keep up with qualification tournaments for the Olympics.
February 2018 I re-injured my shoulder/rotator cuff. Ended up having to get it surgically repaired in May 2018. This was difficult coming back from -- both physically and mentally.
Earliest memory of beach volleyball?
I started playing volleyball in 5th grade at school. It was the first year we could play sports so I did volleyball and basketball.
I didn’t play beach volleyball until I was in college -- and my boyfriend at the time (husband now) got me into it. It was a challenge for me. It was something new. I was determined to understand it and become “good” at it.
Earliest memory of watching the Olympics?
I was in the Florida Keys with my family and our friends when the 2004 Olympics were happening. My dad turned the TV on and Misty and Kerri were playing. We ended up watching them but it didn’t hit me like “this is something I want to do”... so it’s easy to say I never imagined myself being a beach volleyball Olympian. That thought didn’t cross my mind until teaming up with Lauren Fendrick in 2013!
Specific breakthrough moment?
Winning the bronze medal at the 2013 Berlin Grand Slam was a pretty special moment. All the top teams were there and we beat several of them.
Close friends with any competitors?
We love the Japanese team! They come to California for training blocks so we get to practice with them often. Megumi and Miki are super sweet and absolutely great athletes! We trained with them on my birthday and they showed up to the beach with gifts for me.
Who do you socialize with most within beach volleyball?
I’m not the most social person. Kerri and I kind of keep to ourselves but we always enjoy practicing with the Japanese team and hanging with Maria and Carolina from Brazil.
Advice you'd give a young player?
Play as much as you can! Play play play!