3 Life Lessons from Athlete Adventurer Ross Edgley
Do you remember the feeling of waking up on the morning of your birthday as a child?
Your tiny eyes opened wide, there was a split second of sleep induced fogginess, then your mind began to burst with excitement. You leapt out of bed realising that a great treat (or maybe several) awaited you.
This was the feeling I got to experience this year for 24 weeks straight. Every Thursday I would rush to my computer to watch the latest exploits of the Great British Swim. Starting on June 1st, 2018 Ross Edgley, who is the author of The World’s Fittest Book and a self proclaimed Athlete Adventurer, set off at Margate, England to be the first person to swim around mainland Britain.
Spoiler Alert! He was successful in his endeavour and finished the swim in 157 days on November, 4th, 2018. You can watch his amazing adventure odyssey here:
Ross had one main purpose for the swim. To spark the imagination of people from around the world to what is possible to achieve in sport. “I’m not saying everyone should go and swim around the country they live in,” he said. “I’m not saying that. I just hope it gets people to think outside of their comfort zones. Whether it’s trying your first triathlon, 5km run, or whatever sport. Just try something new.”
I was so inspired by Ross’s swim that I decided to create a Yoga for Swimmers practice as part of Warrior Addicts Yoga for Sports program. You can check out the classes here to take your swimming to the next level:
What can we learn from Ross’s incredible achievement?
Here are 3 Life Lessons of how the Great British Swim was won:
“This is the toilet. And this is a sacred space on the Great British Swim. Because this is where I do a lot of my thinking. Not in a weird way. This is where I put on my wetsuit that is no doubt cold and wet from the day before. Between these four walls is where you have a real conversation with yourself. Especially at 2 am in the morning. You look outside and it’s pitch black. You know there are jellyfish out in the water. You know when you start to swim you’re going to get stung in the face. You also see the bed and know it would be so much easier to crawl back into a warm bed. You know there are no jellyfish in your bed. This is really the moment where the Great British Swim will be won or lost.” – Ross Edgley, Episode 13 Brutal Reality of Swimming Around Scotland Make up your mind to do something and give everything in your power to achieve it. Your goals will not be won easily. There will be many uncomfortable moments along your journey. Getting up early. Missing your favourite TV show. Pushing past feelings of wanting to quit.
Even if you have a goal that you love there will come the point in time where your resolution to complete it will wain. Around the 50-75% mark, you may lose interest or become distracted. The high energy levels you had when you first started may be lower now. It may feel like your mind is out of sync with your goal, but really it’s the opposite. This is the moment where you have the opportunity to stay on course, push past the discomfort, and forge neural pathways full greater resilience within the brain. Through this process, you get better at creating goals, achieving them, and then creating even bigger goals to continue your evolution to your highest potential.
“This idea of being honest with yourself and others is really what this whole Scottish leg of the Great British Swim has been about. Scotland is harsh, remote, and unforgiving. You find in complete exhaustion the most honest version of yourself. When the media’s there and the camera’s on you it’s easy to smile, it’s very easy to swim with high elbows, and perfect technique. But in Scotland, you’re not swimming with high elbows or perfect technique because you’re swimming in 30 knot gales. Your technique is ugly but it’s honest.” – Ross Edgley, Episode 17 Get Back Home
Ross and Red Bull committed to film the Great British Swim in the most authentic way possible. Depicting the stark, and often brutal truth, of taking on a landmark sports endeavour. There were many high moments during the swim, witnessing the epic beauty of Britain’s coastline, swimming with dolphins and whales, people rowing out to deliver food to the boat. But equally as many dark moments, brutal freezing water, chunks of Ross’s tongue coming out, severe chafing of the neck.
The reality that was captured and shared through an epic adventure story made the audience relate to Ross’s struggles. He received thousands of supportive social media messages to help him get through the dark times. Authenticity has the power to connect people, to help us empathise with each others struggles and wins, and to ultimately support each other in endeavours to advance the human race.
“After battling waves and tides and just stuck in the bay. We were blessed with the most unbelievable few days. Firstly, the Royal Navy decided to rock on over. They heard morale was quite low and that I was taking a beating by Mother Nature.” – Ross Edgley, Episode 5 Head to Head With A Battleship
As you’ve probably realised by now swimming around Britain was not easy. The physical demand on the body was enormous, yet the mental mindset was really what conquered the challenge. A dose of grit and sheer will were needed to smash through waves. A steadfast focus and sense of unwavering belief needed to be maintained. But what might be missed in this mental concoction was gratitude.
Throughout the swim Ross made a point to show appreciation to his sailing crew, to Mother Nature, the Red Bull team, and more. Gratitude has a powerful effect on the brain. It shifts our state of mind from looking at what we don’t have, to changing our awareness to recognise what we do have in our life. During the dark times, it’s a blessing to have the light of gratitude on our side.
Ross Edgley set three World Records completing the Great British Swim and inspired thousands of people with the possibility of sport. But beyond World Records Ross’s greatest accomplishment is being an ambassador for how to live an optimised life.
This article was written for Warrior Addict by our fantastic Brand Warrior, Canadian Michael Toru. To find out more about Michael, please check out his personal Brand Warrior page here
We would like to give credit to both Redbull and CNN for the images used in this article