Tips & Advice

#Iamspeedofit: Ryan Stramrood

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I am Ryan Stramrood, 42 years young. Born and bred in the beautiful Mother City, Cape Town. I spent 12 years before that at Rondebosch Boys High School, followed by a Bachelor of Economics degree at Stellenbosch University.
I only fairly recently started swimming back in 2000. At that stage, I was spending far too much time on the couch and wanted to improve my fitness and lifestyle. So I joined a swim squad with coach Gary Freeling, who I am proud to say after 15 years, is still my coach and who is still trying all he can to improve my less-than-perfect stroke (never give up Gary).
Ryan-Stramrood-swimming
Little did I know back then as I battled through only 20 lengths before exhaustion, just how my life would change thanks to, inter alia, the attitude of Gary and a few of the other swimmers in the squad who, after only a year in the water, challenged me to attempt the 7.5km swim from Robben Island to Blouberg.
“IMPOSSIBLE” was my first thought. “This kind of challenge is surely reserved for the super human”! Well, apparently not. I will never forget my first island crossing which took me 2h36 in icy water. That was when I realised how badly I had been under-estimating my own abilities IN ALL AREAS OF MY LIFE. And so the journey began…
I have now completed 53 Robben Island crossings and it has become a fantastic training / conditioning swim for me as I take on swim challenges around the world.
My journey has seen me tackle some of the world’s most challenging swims, the biggest of which was the notorious English Channel – 36km from Dover, UK, across to France in 2008. It took me 12h54 and taught me more about myself than I could ever have imagined. From the English Channel and many other cold or warm water endurance successes (Alaska, Australia, Spain, San Francisco, etc), together with Ram Barkai, Kieron Palframan, Andrew Chin and Toks Viviers, I have taken on ICE SWIMMING – a whole new level of hard! (and some would argue stupid too – but they don’t get it!)
Completing ice water challenges (1 mile in sub 5C water) wearing only my Speedo, goggles and cap in places such as Siberia; Murmansk in the Arctic; Antarctica and then extreme cold water swims (12C and below) Cape Horn, Magellan Strait and the North Channel between Ireland and Scotland, etc. The physical and mental training for ice water challenges is a specialised discipline and very difficult. It not only requires pool and ocean training, but also ice-tub conditional as we sit in 0C tubs of water to try to understand the reaction of the body and mind in these circumstances.
Keep in mind that as I run a small, dynamic advertising sales business as my day job. All training takes place before or after hours. I have beautiful son and family who deserve so much more attention, so the juggling act becomes quite tricky. I have also recently joined the international Inspirational Speaking circuit which is awesome and has taken off, but does require a lot of travelling and time over and above the 6 day a week training schedule I try to maintain.
I have a few goals waiting in the wings – some too big and daunting to announce just yet, but I do also plan to return to the extremely difficult, cold, jellyfish riddled North Channel between Ireland and Scotland for a solo attempt, as well as the Cook Strait, Catalina Channel and Manhattan Island race in the coming years.
I have many other interests outside of swimming – inspiring people, guitar and singing, waterskiing, boating…
I don’t necessarily live by any specific quote, but I do have a theme of my own – Pushing Past Impossible!! We all suffer areas in our lives, often deep seated in our subconscious or conscious minds that we believe would be impossible for us to achieve. These shape us and guide us to stay rooted in our comfort zones. And while operating within a comfort zone, one simply can not learn! Find them and challenge them!
I advise all swimmers new or old, to commit to a challenge you feel is out of your reach (distance, speed, temperature, etc). One that perhaps scares you a bit and where failure feels probable. Figure out the training required to make it happen, get your head right and PUSH PAST YOUR OWN IMPOSSIBLE.
ryan flag
Speedo has always supported me and I wear my SA flag Speedo cap proudly wherever I go in the world.

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