How does it feel to swim through massive waves and brutally rough swell? Exhilarating of course!
Just ask Olivier Baillet, a four-time Ironman Triathlon World Championship finisher and coach to athletes looking to propel themselves Beyond the Line.
I recently had the opportunity to speak with Olivier about his amazing swim around Lantau Island. Our common interests of ocean swimming, taking on new challenges and pushing beyond limits meant his open water swimming challenge really resonated with me and I couldn’t wait to share his story!
Olivier and his swimming partner Bruce Pye are the only 2 people to swim the grueling 75km journey around Lantau Island. Braving unpredictable and challenging ocean conditions for 5 days straight means you must have the mental fortitude and physical strength that only comes through disciplined training and the confidence to leave the doubt cave far behind you.
His description of how he felt during the toughest part of the challenge is a remarkable insight into the mind of an endurance athlete and open water swimmer.
It was very early in the race, we had barely left Discovery Bay, maybe swam only two or three kilometers and we got hit by waves,
It was humongous! Waves everywhere.
I had barely ever experienced conditions like that. The swell was brutal and in every direction.
And I thought this is why I trained. This is what I wanted, I wanted the ultimate test.
So this is it. This is the moment of truth.
I could feel my arms hitting more resistance and my body getting tangled here and there. I looked up and saw the white tips of the waves and I know that means there’s a lot of wind.
And the waves are going to be good. I mean going to be big.
I don’t know how long it’s going to last, but I’m prepared for it. I’m confident that even if it lasts for a long, long time, I’m going to make it.
This is the moment of truth. This is what I trained for.
So I decided to put my head down and go through it. Just do it! Just go! Just swim through!
And then came another typical endurance event moment. The situation improved, all by itself. The swell remained high but it was only going sideways, a relief compared to the battlefield we had just been through.
I swam through and never looked back.
What I didn’t know was that my support crew were actually thinking of pulling us out of the water and giving up the project. The conditions were so horrible from the outside that they thought we’re not going to make it.
I was completely baffled when they said ‘We almost got you out of the water because we thought you were going to be hurt’
But I thought, this is fun! I live for this kind of moment! This is what I trained for. To deliver this kind of performance when it matters.
There was a complete disconnect between what people saw and what I felt.
There are a few moments in my life that I will remember when I die and this will be one of them.
Have you ever wondered, what is the moment you will remember?
What’s it like to feel that kind of exhilaration?
We all have our own boundaries to push, to challenge, to test.
Sea Beyond Me can give you the courage and confidence to take the first step.
What will be your moment to remember?
Find out more about Olivier’s coaching and consulting services at Beyond the Line