“For simple [high] dives, we . . . really feel each moment. ”
Lysanne Richard is a high diver, sports leader, author and social change powerhouse.
Before receiving accolades from Redbull Cliff Diving, FINA High Diving, and Women of the Year at Diving Canada, she was once a young girl trying to learn to swim.
Diving was introduced to her as an accident because all the swimming lessons were full. Lysanne learned to dive better than she swam and fell in love with the exhilaration.
An ear injury stopped Lysanne’s participation in diving. That event led her to pursue circus school at Cégep in Québec. She combined her acrobatic skills with artistic expression.
Her role in circus helped her develop the values of community and relationship building.
“I worked in circus for years, and the [openness] of the people in circus and the meeting between people is strong,” Richard said. “So this is something important for me. And when I returned to diving, I wanted to [stay] involved with the people.”
Her passion to connect with the community keeps her engaged as a leader. She sees sport as an opportunity to inspire women and girls to take charge of their health, improve their confidence and to be fearless.
What is the process of training for high diving? Dry-land training, conditioning, and very little time is spent doing the high dives.
” …when my body was more new, if I do not want to hurt, I need to do [dives] perfect,” said Richard. “So, the solution to not get injured was to do perfect [dives]. Now, it’s kind of a part that I cannot control … [so I make] sure my body is totally strong to take the impact… There is always a gamble when we do these dives.”
Abundant physical strength is needed to absorb the impact and protect the body, and mental toughness is the second half of the battle. Height is an extreme risk. And fear is overwhelming — even for professionals.
“I always had fear even before the injury, but I’m attached to the fear to be stronger and I want to have fear, but have ways to be over it and be strong,” said Richard.
At one competition, Richard landed flat after diving off of 7.5 m. That moment helped her determine her next steps in her career.
“Okay. You have to kick your own a** and be confident. I had a bad dive because I was thinking about what I shouldn’t do.”
The awareness Richard developed about her own negative thinking led her to better compete. She keeps a gratitude journal to practice self-love. Through journalling, Richard tracks her successes and regularly looks back at her relationship with herself as a competitive athlete.
She explains that it takes a team to reach her goals as an athlete. Diving is a team sport. It takes the skills of her diving coach, mental training coach, physiotherapist – a community – to succeed. Each individual takes turns leading like geese in a V-formation as shared in her analogy.
Her book Toujour Plus Haut tells her story. It also connects her with new audiences like young women and girls interested in trying new activities to stay healthy. Richard uses her voice to inspire girls and women to “jump in.”
The theme of her story encourages people to take the leap and to turn an idea into action. Richard says that each chance we take creates new opportunities that lead us down a path we may not have anticipated.
To learn more about Richard’s story and her work as a high diver and speaker, check out her website. There, you can learn more about Lysanne Richard’s journey and find her book, Toujours Plus Haut avec Myriam Jézéquel.