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Off the Couch | In the Beginning

29 May 2018

People always laugh when I describe myself as an Average Joe, but it’s true. I run a small business, I’m a single dad, I have all the same daily frustrations and challenges as everyone. I just happen to have a crazy hobby on the side that helps me deal with them a little differently. My hobby is Ultra Extreme Open Water and Ice Swimming.

I only started swimming in my late twenties/early thirties – I could tell I was becoming a bit of a couch potato and I’d always enjoyed swimming, so I signed up with a small swimming squad.

After a while, one of the guys suggested I attempt the Robben Island to Blouberg Swim: 7.3km in very cold open water.

At first, I thought it was an insane idea; something reserved for elite athletes and nowhere near my aspirations nor abilities. But something made me train for it anyway, and in 2003 I gave it a go, and succeeded. Now I’ve done it 77 times, and what was an ‘Everest’ to me, I now look at as a training swim (a tough one, though!)

That first Robben Island Swim got me thinking about what more was possible – what else I could think was an insane idea, and then achieve. Since then I’ve swum all over the world: from South Africa, Gibraltar, Taiwan, Australia, South America, Alaska, the Arctic Circle, Russia, Antarctica, even Siberia and many, many other crazy places…

It’s not easy. I have to follow painful, pioneering training techniques before an ice challenge. Because I’m not doing it full time, I use what limited resources I have and put basic safety procedures in place – initially drawing from a like-minded group of mates who helped open many doors. But I’ve found that by challenging myself and pushing personal limits for swimming in ice water, I’ve embarked on a personal journey of challenge and discovery… That’s how I got started with my speaking career – telling my story to a few friends and then a few more, and then small businesses, and bigger and bigger.

It certainly wasn’t ever the plan to become a ‘speaker’, but seeing what everyone takes away after hearing my simple story makes me want to do it every day!

The challenges I do around the world impact my life hugely. If I can achieve the impossible in the water and in temperatures it’s not supposed to be possible to swim in, I can achieve great things in all aspects of my life.

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  • Hi guys 🏼Check out my latest blog post for some inspiration during the SA lockdown.Link in bio 🏽https://ryanstramrood.com/blogwww.ryanstramrood.com 🖱#capetown #southafrica #swimming #swimmer #lockdown #lockdownsouthafrica #quarantine #ryanstramrood #inspiration #motivationalspeakerHi guys 🏼Check out my latest blog post for some inspiration during the SA lockdown.Link in bio 🏽https://ryanstramrood.com/blogwww.ryanstramrood.com 🖱#capetown #southafrica #swimming #swimmer #lockdown #lockdownsouthafrica #quarantine #ryanstramrood #inspiration #motivationalspeaker
  • Interesting dip this morning, started in pouring rain, water at 11,5C which is not great to jump into, then dropped to 10,6C around the point, which came close to breaking the spirit, then 2,3kms into the 8,4km swim, within 30meters it jumped up to 15C. So sudden. A Cape Point start to the day is never a bad thing 🙂. And a PROPER well done to the Issataya Bredell who was out there too, amazing! Thank you very much BigBayEvents and Derrick Frazer - and to my crew Mark De Klerk ;)Interesting dip this morning, started in pouring rain, water at 11,5C which is not great to jump into, then dropped to 10,6C around the point, which came close to breaking the spirit, then 2,3kms into the 8,4km swim, within 30meters it jumped up to 15C. So sudden. A Cape Point start to the day is never a bad thing 🙂. And a PROPER well done to the Issataya Bredell who was out there too, amazing! Thank you very much BigBayEvents and Derrick Frazer – and to my crew Mark De Klerk ;)
  • Breede vibesBreede vibes
  • Decent company to share a @devilspeakbeer with, cheers @ckrige @sethhulleyDecent company to share a @devilspeakbeer with, cheers @ckrige @sethhulley
  • Good Luck @shoneecn for your first Robben Island Crossing, just a few more weeks to go! Thank you @cam_ubunye for  support today🤘🏻Good Luck @shoneecn for your first Robben Island Crossing, just a few more weeks to go! Thank you @cam_ubunye for support today🤘🏻
  • Delivered a proper power keynote to the team at @sportscience_sa, making it just in time to close off the session before the lights went off! #pushpastloadshedding  Thank you @shoneecn for hosting 🏻Delivered a proper power keynote to the team at @sportscience_sa, making it just in time to close off the session before the lights went off! #pushpastloadshedding Thank you @shoneecn for hosting 🏻
  • Congratulations to @swimmerpsychologist on her Robben Island Crossing #1 🏻#pushpastimpossible #robbenislandCongratulations to @swimmerpsychologist on her Robben Island Crossing #1 🏻#pushpastimpossible #robbenisland
  • Sharing, learning, collecting, laughing. Great night out. @cam_ubunye @lewis.pughSharing, learning, collecting, laughing. Great night out. @cam_ubunye @lewis.pugh
  • Hot day out today for the @torpedoswimrun @valdevieestate 10km, thanks for the company Mark and @ryk.neethling 🤟🏻Hot day out today for the @torpedoswimrun @valdevieestate 10km, thanks for the company Mark and @ryk.neethling 🤟🏻
  • Sharing some lunch hour pleasure and pain with my swimming partner, Mark De Klerk. This is how we train for the cold water, in the ice buckets at I&J🧊Sharing some lunch hour pleasure and pain with my swimming partner, Mark De Klerk. This is how we train for the cold water, in the ice buckets at I&J🧊