Beth French stepped up to the podium with a harrowing tale of how she went from wheelchair bound to world class athlete. A transformation spurred on by a hard-hitting therapist who, upon hearing the condition keeping her immobile, challenged then 17 year-old Beth with “you’re the only person who can change things” “go and write a bucket list”.
This game changing advice meant that soon Beth would live symptom free with ME. Pushing her body and mind to the outermost limits of comfortability and beyond, she found a well of inner strength that she drew on to achieve her goals.
Wanting to power herself through the water without a boat or paddle, Beth set her sights on France and at aged 35 proceeded to swim the English channel, considered “the Mount Everest of open water swimming”. The swim gave her the tools to “endure life”, learning that “how our mind define life’s challenges creates our experience”.
During her darkest moment (and by this, I mean literally the darkest: ocean swimming at night in shark infested waters) she had an epiphany about suffering: “fear, doubt, pain, fatigue, we all experience these things but finding your reason (for being there) will help you let go of it and propel you forward”. For Beth, that’s to show her autistic son that disability shouldn’t define you or hold you back from achieving your potential.
This year Beth is taking on the Ocean’s 7 – seven of the toughest open water swims on the planet. “My life’s work is recovery. Stretching the muscle of adventure, and training the mind to push through my inhibitions”.
Beth’s parting words barely left a dry eye in the room, telling us “I’m not special because I can, I’m special because I try” “it’s your adventure, it’s your mind, it’s your life, go live it”.
Find out more about Beth French’s wild swimming, coaching and swimtreks here.