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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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  • @seachangeproject #MyOctopusTeacher #Netflix #Conservation #oceanconservation #singleuseplastic #WWF #SASSI #sustainability #sustainablefishing #SeaChangeProject" > @seachangeproject #MyOctopusTeacher #Netflix #Conservation #oceanconservation #singleuseplastic #WWF #SASSI #sustainability #sustainablefishing #SeaChangeProject" />Can you watch The Octopus Teacher and still not want to do all you can to help protect our ocean and it's incredible, mysterious, peaceful tenants?This Documentary really touched me…I can't compare to Craig Foster, but I’ve been so blessed to swim with so many beautiful Ocean creatures – from mammoth whales and smaller ones too, countless playful dolphins, plenty cheeky seals, weird anti-social sunfish, penguins and yes, sharks too.I have even had yellowtail fish follow me for kilometres when I was swimming between continents, Europe to Africa’s Gibraltar Straits. They would inquisitively look directly into my goggles with their big round, penetrating eyes. When you share each other’s space in this way, something creeps into your core, into your soul and you’ll intuitively know you’ve been tasked by the creatures of the sea to help them. Follow -> @seachangeproject #MyOctopusTeacher #Netflix #Conservation #oceanconservation #singleuseplastic #WWF #SASSI #sustainability #sustainablefishing #SeaChangeProject
  • Laying down audio books today at @blackhole_studios with @chris_tait_saLaying down audio books today at @blackhole_studios with @chris_tait_sa
  • Another epic swim camp run by @bigbayevents in Langebaan 🤟🏻Another epic swim camp run by @bigbayevents in Langebaan 🤟🏻
  • When it comes to the prism of possibilities, I’ve learnt that the real limit or “IMPOSSIBLE” is definitely not where your mind tells you it is. There is always significant margin on the other side of this ‘safe’ limit which is where the magic starts to happen. I consider myself extremely lucky to be able to help audiences to Push Past Impossible – not anyone else’s impossible, but rather their own.The space or MARGIN between those two lines is where you start to get a concept of how much more you are capable of. It’s not a comfortable space, it’s the definition of being outside your comfort zone – but that’s where you’re going to learn something.I think people know what their impossibles are, deep down… The first step is to identify those moments where there’s a choice to make: you can follow this path because you know you can deliver a nice steady performance, learn nothing and achieve a reasonable goal. But at the same time there’s another potential path: a way to do something differently, or better. Why didn’t you choose that? Because it was a risk, and you thought you could fail. Once you start challenging things on a small level, you can keep growing.When it comes to the prism of possibilities, I’ve learnt that the real limit or “IMPOSSIBLE” is definitely not where your mind tells you it is. There is always significant margin on the other side of this ‘safe’ limit which is where the magic starts to happen. I consider myself extremely lucky to be able to help audiences to Push Past Impossible – not anyone else’s impossible, but rather their own.The space or MARGIN between those two lines is where you start to get a concept of how much more you are capable of. It’s not a comfortable space, it’s the definition of being outside your comfort zone – but that’s where you’re going to learn something.I think people know what their impossibles are, deep down… The first step is to identify those moments where there’s a choice to make: you can follow this path because you know you can deliver a nice steady performance, learn nothing and achieve a reasonable goal. But at the same time there’s another potential path: a way to do something differently, or better. Why didn’t you choose that? Because it was a risk, and you thought you could fail. Once you start challenging things on a small level, you can keep growing.
  • Please think twice before you buy, take a straw, eat with a plastic fork 🏻️ #strawssuck #reuse #recycle #singleuseplasticPlease think twice before you buy, take a straw, eat with a plastic fork 🏻️ #strawssuck #reuse #recycle #singleuseplastic
  • #Repost @tmpublishers・・・A piece from Ryan Stramrood’s chapter, You Are All Extreme Adventurers, in THE BOOK EVERY BUSINESS OWNER MUST READ …“Every time I have jumped into cold water, be it an uncomfortable 16 degrees Celsius, a brutal 5 degrees Celsius or a deadly minus 1 degree Celsius, without fail, while I am swimming and trying to achieve my goal, the overriding emotion and belief is that this will never end. At many points it will feel impossible to reach the shore I am aiming for. The pain and the discomfort are often way too daunting to process at that moment, and the distance still to cover way too far. At some point my mind will do its best to convince me that I will die if I do not bail from the challenge. Quit. I look for excuses to fail, not for reasons to finish. And I spend a lot of time beating myself up for voluntarily putting myself in this position.But while all of this is certainly true, the overriding truth and the lesson here, is that every time I complete the challenge and slow the shivering, it is only minutes before all that pain, discomfort and doubt during the challenge disappears into the abyss and it is only the learnings that remain. … And it will be the same, as we mop up our businesses and our lives.”Available in all good bookstores countrywide, and as a Kindle on Amazon: copy link in comments.#Bookstagram #books #newrelease #southafrica#Repost @tmpublishers・・・A piece from Ryan Stramrood’s chapter, You Are All Extreme Adventurers, in THE BOOK EVERY BUSINESS OWNER MUST READ …“Every time I have jumped into cold water, be it an uncomfortable 16 degrees Celsius, a brutal 5 degrees Celsius or a deadly minus 1 degree Celsius, without fail, while I am swimming and trying to achieve my goal, the overriding emotion and belief is that this will never end. At many points it will feel impossible to reach the shore I am aiming for. The pain and the discomfort are often way too daunting to process at that moment, and the distance still to cover way too far. At some point my mind will do its best to convince me that I will die if I do not bail from the challenge. Quit. I look for excuses to fail, not for reasons to finish. And I spend a lot of time beating myself up for voluntarily putting myself in this position.But while all of this is certainly true, the overriding truth and the lesson here, is that every time I complete the challenge and slow the shivering, it is only minutes before all that pain, discomfort and doubt during the challenge disappears into the abyss and it is only the learnings that remain. … And it will be the same, as we mop up our businesses and our lives.”Available in all good bookstores countrywide, and as a Kindle on Amazon: copy link in comments.#Bookstagram #books #newrelease #southafrica
  • Some artsy captures of my 110th Robben Island Crossing by @candicebakerwhiskygirl 🤟🏻Thank you @bigbayevents  #pushpastimpossible #pushpastimpossible️ #freedomtoswim #robbenislandSome artsy captures of my 110th Robben Island Crossing by @candicebakerwhiskygirl 🤟🏻Thank you @bigbayevents #pushpastimpossible #pushpastimpossible️ #freedomtoswim #robbenisland
  • Hello to “The New Normal” I can now present my keynote from my dining room 🏻 I am digital conference ready🏻#pushpastimpossibleHello to “The New Normal” I can now present my keynote from my dining room 🏻 I am digital conference ready🏻#pushpastimpossible
  • "The time for different is now." When @tmpublishers reached out with a request for me to contribute to a new release: "THE BOOK EVERY BUSINESS OWNER MUST READ" I jumped at the opportunity to feature among some of SAs most brilliant business thinkers.Thanks to the glorious rain and cold weather in Cape Town, I am halfway through this book and literally inhaling the knowledge and insights on every page. As the title says, it is certainly the book every business owner should read right now, although I feel it's highly relevant for ANYONE in current circumstances of overwhelm and uncertainty.To quote from the @BonangMohale chapter, an expression passed down from his Grandmother that I simply LOVE: "Behold the turtle - it only makes progress when it's neck is stuck out!" Copies are still available on Loot - link in bio#TimeForDifferent #PushPastImpossible #RecommendedReading #BookRecommendation"The time for different is now." When @tmpublishers reached out with a request for me to contribute to a new release: "THE BOOK EVERY BUSINESS OWNER MUST READ" I jumped at the opportunity to feature among some of SAs most brilliant business thinkers.Thanks to the glorious rain and cold weather in Cape Town, I am halfway through this book and literally inhaling the knowledge and insights on every page. As the title says, it is certainly the book every business owner should read right now, although I feel it's highly relevant for ANYONE in current circumstances of overwhelm and uncertainty.To quote from the @BonangMohale chapter, an expression passed down from his Grandmother that I simply LOVE: "Behold the turtle – it only makes progress when it's neck is stuck out!" Copies are still available on Loot – link in bio#TimeForDifferent #PushPastImpossible #RecommendedReading #BookRecommendation
  • Yesterday I became the record holder for the most Robben Island Crossings ever completed, a goal I have been working towards for many years 🏻 Being my first RI swim since lockdown restrictions, and very little training, my support crew reckon I broke two records that day, the second record being my “slowest” crossing to date  Not entirely correct but very close! It was tough, but it’s done. Dedicated to the late Theo Yach, who held the record previously and set the bar so high 🏻Yesterday I became the record holder for the most Robben Island Crossings ever completed, a goal I have been working towards for many years 🏻 Being my first RI swim since lockdown restrictions, and very little training, my support crew reckon I broke two records that day, the second record being my “slowest” crossing to date Not entirely correct but very close! It was tough, but it’s done. Dedicated to the late Theo Yach, who held the record previously and set the bar so high 🏻